WUOMFM

Kate Wells

Host/Reporter/Producer

Kate Wells is an award-winning reporter covering general news for Michigan Radio. Her work has been featured on NPR’s Morning EditionAll Things Considered, and Weekend Edition, as well as on WNYC, Harvest Public Media, KUT (Austin Public Radio) and in the Texas Tribune.

Kate got her start as an intern with New Hampshire Public Radio before heading out to the Midwest, where she covered the presidential caucuses for Iowa Public Radio and won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for investigative journalism. She joined Michigan Radio in 2012. Kate enjoys hiking, the Muppets, and cake in all forms.   

a courtroom
Bill Ledbetter / flickr

Here’s the big question: Did a judge just block 80-plus women and girls from talking about their sexual assault allegations against former Olympic gymnastics and MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar?

Or does today’s order to “limit public disclosure” just mean that attorneys with civil suits against Nassar can’t call him a pedophile on Facebook?

Depends who you ask. And even some of the lawyers mentioned in this brief say they don’t totally understand how to interpret the order.

Nassar’s defense: We can’t get a fair trial without judge’s help

Ann Arbor Public Schools

High school suspension rates have dropped by 43% in Ann Arbor over the last few years, but four groups of students still get suspended more often than their peers: boys, African American students, students in Special Education, and kids living in poverty.

“That’s an area we’re really focusing on,” says Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift. “Because we haven’t realized the dramatic reduction that we have there [with impoverished students] that we have in the other areas.”

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Flint residents just got a big proposed settlement from the city and the state over the water crisis. A settlement was announced late last week, but more details were released today.

The state is agreeing to pay at least $87 million to pay for at least 18,000 new water service lines in Flint. Under the proposal, which has to get final approval from a judge, the city would have to replace all lead and galvanized steel water lines in the next three years.

Steve Burt / Flickr, http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Here’s one way to react to a warming planet: get smaller.

We know mammals literally shrank, during a massive global warming event 56 million years ago. Imagine an early horse ancestor the size of a cat.

Now back then, the earth was 46 degrees hotter on average than it is right now.

So researchers wanted to know: do mammals still experience shrinking - a.k.a. dwarfing - during other, less intense periods of warming?

ellenm1 / Flickr, http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

You know how in old Disney cartoons and movies, spring arrives and all the birds and woodland creatures just wake up all at once?

That’s kind of how nature works, too.

But new research suggests that what we typically think of as spring: flowers blooming, ice melting... is starting to change.

Dr. Larry Nassar
Michigan Attorney General's office

Dr. Larry Nassar has been found responsible for sexual assault, for the first time since this scandal erupted in the fall. 

TaxRebate.org.uk/Flickr Creative Commons

If you're trying to understand what the heck this new Republican health care bill would mean for you, you’re not alone.

Let’s do a quick recap: Medicaid is health insurance for really low income people. Under the Affordable Care Act, states including Michigan expanded their Medicaid programs. Suddenly single adults making $16,600 a year were eligible, or a family of four making about $34,000 a year.

Since then, 650,000 Michiganders have signed up for that Medicaid expansion, called “Healthy Michigan.” Researchers say most of those people didn’t have insurance before this.

James Thomas/flickr creative commons

Katie Payne lives in California now. She and her sister, Maureen Payne Baum, grew up in the Detroit area.

Their mom still lives there. And a few months ago, their mom was driving to work, listening to news on the radio, when a story came on. A US Olympic gymnastics and Michigan State University sports doctor was being accused of sexual abuse.

It was just 4 a.m. in California. But Payne’s mom called her anyway.

Flickr Creative Commons

Professor John Kerr wants to be really clear: It's not that he thinks MSU police aren't doing a great job, or that the administration has anything to hide in its effort to investigate Dr. Larry Nassar, a former professor and sports physician at the school.

It's just that Kerr, and at least another 150 faculty members at Michigan State University who signed a letter detailing their concerns, are worried it looks bad if the university essentially investigates itself in a massive criminal sexual abuse case.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

A bomb threat forced children to evacuate from Hebrew Day School in Ann Arbor Monday morning, as similar threats were reported in Florida, Pennsylvania, Alabama, New Jersey and other states.

An unidentified man called the Hebrew Day School just after 9 am, claiming there was a bomb in a backpack that was about to detonate, according to police.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Here’s a question some doctors and attorneys are getting: if you’re an immigrant – even a legal one – could you get deported for using food stamps? What about Medicaid? 

There's a lot of fear among immigrants right now that getting public assistance could make them a target.

Take the calls Dr. Eric Bouwens started getting a few weeks ago at the Clinica Santa Maria in Grand Rapids. 

MSU staff allegedly told the gymnastics team not to cooperate with authorities investigating sexual assault allegations against Dr. Larry Nassar
Flickr/Betsy Weber

Members of the MSU women's gymnastics team were told to say "no comment" to any reporters or police asking about sexual abuse allegations against the team physician, Dr. Larry Nassar.

That’s according to a lawsuit (which you can read here) filed by a scholarship student on the team, who also says she was repeatedly assaulted by Nassar as a child.

A team meeting in September 

Lawsuits against the university claim students started reporting abuse as early as 1999.
user John M. Quick / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

After 27 years on the job, Kathie Klages is resigning as head coach of women’s gymnastics at MSU. She denies any knowledge about Dr. Larry Nassar’s alleged years-long, repeated sexual abuse of MSU gymnasts.

Two women have filed court documents claiming they told Klages about Nassar’s alleged assaults back in the 1990s. He wasn’t fired from MSU until earlier this past fall.  

Dr. Larry Nassar
Michigan Attorney General's office

A second former athlete says she told MSU’s Coach Kathie Klages some 20 years ago that Dr. Larry Nassar was sexually abusing her. In court documents filed today, the woman claims Coach Klages told her there was "no reason to bring up Nassar’s conduct."

Michigan State University suspended Coach Klages yesterday after 27 years on the job, though a University spokesman did not say why.

Reached Tuesday, Klages' attorney, Shirlee Bobrik, says she'll be issuing a written statement shortly.  

Michigan State University suspended women’s gymnastics Head Coach Kathie Klages on Monday, after 27 years on the job.

A university spokesperson said he couldn’t immediately comment about the reason for the suspension.

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

There’s a young couple in Washtenaw County trying to get off heroin. They say so far, they’re doing great. After 22 months in treatment, she’s going to community college and he says he’s working at a high-end grocery store.

They’re just two of the 20,000 low-income Michiganders who now have free access to drug treatment.

But because it’s tied up with the Affordable Care Act, nobody knows if it’s going to last.

By 7:00 Thursday morning, the methadone clinic is already bustling

Betsy DeVos
betsydevos.com

Democrats are trying to get just one more Republican to vote against Betsy DeVos's confirmation as U.S. Secretary of Education tomorrow.  

They're planning to stay on the Senate floor overnight in a last-ditch bid to block DeVos's cabinet appointment.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says she's been overwhelmed by constituents telling her not to vote for DeVos.  

A new policy will hopefully help supervisors track any racial profiling
Michigan State Police

Police would have to report anybody they arrest to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, if there’s “probable cause” to think they’re “not legally present in the United States.”

That’s under a new bill introduced in the state House of Representatives last month. It’s now heading to the Local Government committee.

A boy in a refugee camp in Turkey.
United Nations Development Programme / Flickr

An Iraqi man planned to come join his wife and child in Michigan later this year. They’d been issued special visas because of his wife’s work as an interpreter for the U.S. military in Iraq. But when word started getting out last week about a looming crackdown on immigration, he changed his plans. By Wednesday, he was doing everything he could to get out of Iraq immediately.

Thomas Hawk/flickr collective commons

A Syrian refugee living in Michigan was waiting for his wife to join him in the next couple of weeks.

“There’s no hope of that happening now,” says Sean de Four, vice president of refugee resettlement at Samaritas.

Another 16 refugees were scheduled to arrive in the state next week, he says. Half are from Iraq and the others are from Syria. Now de Four’s received word that all of those resettlements have been canceled, and the refugees will remain in a camp in Turkey.

user Laura4Smith / Flickr

Oakland County health officials say they’re seeing a spike in whooping cough (AKA pertussis), largely among kids in day care and preschool. That’s likely because the disease is contagious and spreads easily, but kids that age aren’t old enough to have had all their pertussis vaccinations yet.

Since November, the county health department says it's seen 56 confirmed cases of whooping cough, compared with 10 this time last year. The county saw just 59 cases for all of last year. None of those cases has been fatal.

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

State senators are making voting laws an issue this year. A mostly Democratic group of senators has introduced a set of bills they say will make voting easier for everyone.

One of the bills would allow people to preregister to vote when they turn 16 – as long as they have a driver’s license or a state ID card.

Democratic Senator Steve Bieda is a bill sponsor. Calling the legislation innovative, he said the state needs to keep up with modern times when it comes to voting. 

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts
Jim Fouts Facebook page

“I will not resign,” says Warren Mayor Jim Fouts on Facebook this morning, just an hour after several Democrats – including Congressman Sander Levin, D-MI, – called on Fouts to quit over racist, sexist audio tapes that are allegedly of Fouts.

Here's his Facebook post:

Charlie Davidson / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In a perfect world, all of our doctors would be really, really good at something called “motivational interviewing.”

There are a million websites and books devoted to motivational interviewing, but here’s a super-quick synopsis (that might make an expert in motivational interviewing cringe): basically, it’s an in-depth, open-ended, non-judgmental conversation about health behaviors that draws out our own thoughts about our drug use/alcoholism/weight struggles, etc. 

Lawsuits against the university claim students started reporting abuse as early as 1999.
user John M. Quick / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In 1999, an MSU student athlete says she told her head coach and trainers that Dr. Larry Nassar, then a sports doctor at the school and an Olympics gymnastics physician, “touched her vaginal area although she was seeking treatment for an injured hamstring.”

Dr. Larry Nassar
Michigan Attorney General's office

Eighteen alleged victims are suing former Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar and his former employer, Michigan State University.

The accusers are current and former athletes who sought treatment from Dr. Nassar, but instead, they say, they were repeatedly molested, with Dr. Nassar groping them and, in some cases, digitally penetrating them.  

Nassar was also a sports medicine professor at MSU until the school fired him in September.

One of the accusers, Rachael Denhollander, says the university failed them in its previous investigations into abuse.

Joy VanBuhler/Flickr Creative Commons

A federal judge has thrown out a sexual assault lawsuit against the University of Michigan, in which a former student claimed he was wrongly accused of rape.

The man – who just goes by John Doe in the court filings – says he had consensual sex with a female student at a party in January 2016.

She filed a complaint, however, saying she’d been drinking and was incapacitated at the time; she says she’d also told him “no sex” that night.

Flickr Creative Commons/Sanofi Pasteur

“Who killed Karina Baxter and the…other individuals (in the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak)"?

That’s the question federal prosecutors are asking the court to consider, as the murder case against Barry Cadden began today in Boston.

Cadden’s the former co-owner and head pharmacist of the New England Compounding Center. That’s the place that made contaminated back pain injections, which it shipped out to pain clinics and doctors across the country.

Hundreds of people got sick. More than 60 died, including 19 in Michigan.

Ricardo Giaviti / Flickr

Fiat Chrysler says it's investing $1 billion in its U.S. factories to create 2,000 new jobs and add three new Jeep vehicles including a pickup truck, according to the Associated Press. The company says it will modernize a factory in Warren, Michigan to make two large SUVs. A plant in Toledo, Ohio, also will get new equipment to make a new Jeep pickup. The announcement is a continuation of efforts to increase production of SUVs and trucks as the company gets out of the small and midsize car businesses.

user clarita / morguefile

What happens to the state’s economy when 600,000 more Michiganders get health insurance, thanks to the state’s Medicaid expansion – AKA the Health Michigan plan that’s part of the Affordable Care Act?

According to Dr. John Ayanian, professor and director of the Institute of Healthy Policy and Innovation the University of Michigan, you get about 30,000 new jobs a year.

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