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In October 2010, the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines deployed to Afghanistan. They were sent to relieve the British Royal Marines in the southern Helmand Province, a hotbed of insurgent fighters and IEDs.

Twenty-five Marines in the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines did not come home.

One of those who did come home went on to become a student at Michigan State University. Former Marine sniper Logan Stark is now a senior in MSU's Professional Writing Program.

As a class project, Logan formed a three-member team that produced a documentary called "For the 25" dedicated to his fallen brothers in the "Dark Horse" battalion, which suffered the highest number of casualties in 2010 during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Logan Stark joined us in the studio today.

You can watch "For the 25" below.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan State University is getting  $14 million to study how dioxins affect human health.

MSU researchers will look for ways to remove dioxins from the environment and reach out to communities burdened with the toxic pollutants.

Dioxin contamination has been a problem in parts of Michigan, including along the Tittabawassee and Kalamazoo Rivers.

Norbert Kaminski is heading up the multi-disciplinary study. He notes that dioxins have been linked to illnesses like cancer.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Congress could act this week to roll back an interest rate hike on a student loan program that many Michigan college students use.

The interest rate doubled for federally subsidized Stafford loans on July 1st.   

The rate went from 3.4% to 6.8%.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says the federal government will make a $50 billion profit from the student loan interest rate hike.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan State University's Writing Department is testing out a new way to educate its students and, potentially, the masses.

Professors Julie Lindquist and Jeff Grabill are teaching an experimental online course this summer called "Thinking Like a Writer." It is free and open to the public.

Lindquist is quick to admit the downfalls of online classes. They're often large and impersonal, and relationships between students and instructors can be sacrificed for efficiency.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - State records show Michigan State University's license plate is the No. 1 specialty plate in Michigan.

The Lansing State Journal reports Friday that a half-million of the MSU plates have been sold since it debuted in 2000.

That puts the East Lansing school squarely ahead of its rival to the southeast.

The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor's license plate has drawn about 362,000 patrons. That puts it in third place behind a patriotic plate that debuted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Lansing State Journal / video screen grab

The Federal Aviation Administration is looking into Michigan State University's use of state-owned passenger planes.

More from the Lansing State Journal's Kristen Daum:

Long-disused factories, rotting warehouses, and weed-infested and abandoned gas stations plague many neighborhoods in Michigan cities like Flint, Saginaw, Detroit, and Muskegon. 

And when the original builder can't be found - or has declared bankruptcy - taxpayers are often left paying the bill to tear the dangerous structures down. 

Why not make companies buy  "blight insurance" policies to prevent that from happening in the future?  That's the proposal in a new report by Michigan State University researcher Rex LaMore.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan State University students should prepare to pay more tuition this fall.

The M-U Board of Trustees will vote on a tuition hike this morning. 

The proposed tuition hike averages out to about 2.8%.

MSU president Lou Anna K. Simon defends the tuition increase.

“In terms of planning for families, we’ve tried to be as transparent as possible,” says Simon, “And we actually have a lower number than we planned.”

The tuition rate increase will not be uniform across the board.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan State University broke ground today on a new, $60 million dollar bioengineering building.

The building will serve as place for researchers in different disciplines to share ideas for advancements in medicine and other sciences.

“Let’s not forget that as important as the facility is to our success, it is the people, the researchers, the medical professionals applying their knowledge, curiosity and perseverance that will ultimately triumph,” said Stephen Hsu, vice president for Research and Graduate Studies at MSU.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Palisades returns to service

The Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in southwestern Michigan re-opened yesterday after finishing repairs to a tank that leaked slightly radioactive water into Lake Michigan. The plant has had nine shutdowns since September 2011; company spokeswoman Lindsay Rose says the tank has been redesigned to guard against future leaks. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says there was no public health risk from the radioactive release.

Detroit's water department faces restructuring

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr has big plans to restructure the city’s water department. It would largely keep the same governing structure, with representatives from Detroit and surrounding counties, but the authority would also pay Detroit to lease the department’s assets.

“Orr’s plan suggests that spinning the water department off to an authority would allow it refinance its debt, and borrow more readily for capital improvements,” Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek reports.

MSU law professor running for Michigan attorney general

Michigan State University law professor, Mark Totten, announced yesterday that he is running for Michigan attorney general in 2014. Totten, a Democrat, used to be a federal prosecutor. Democrats will choose their attorney general candidate at a nominating convention next year; no other Democratic candidates have entered the race yet. Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette is expected to seek re-election.

Powell K (2004). "Opening a window to the autistic brain"

For families who have children with autism, finding a specialist to care for their children can mean being put on a long wait list.

Currently, there are about 50 certified behavior analysts in the state of Michigan.

However, there are over 18,000 children with autism.

user jsome1 / Flickr

New research finds men are dirtier than women, but not by much.

Health officials say that washing your hands is the best thing you can do to avoid getting sick.

When it comes to putting that into practice, studies have found that a lot of us say we do a good job, but researchers found most of us don’t do anywhere near as good a job as we should.

Carl Borchgrevink is an associate professor in the School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University.

“We found that people do not wash their hands as much as they should… or to be blunt… there’s a lot of dirty hands out there,” he says.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is facing a potential class action lawsuit over a student loan program.

Beginning in 2003, the Michigan Students First loan program offered college students an interest rate subsidy after their first 36 on-time loan payments, effectively reducing their interest rate to zero.

But in 2010, the subsidy was ended.

Attorney Jeff Hank says that left thousands of Michigan college students having to pay more in student loans than they had originally planned.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio


My Michigan Martini (recipe by Lester Graham)

5 parts Knickerbocker gin

1 part Vya Extra Dry vermouth

1 dash Fee Brothers orange bitters

Add several ice cubes to bartender's mixing glass. Add dash of bitters followed by vermouth and gin. Stir 20 - 30 times (do NOT shake). Strain into martini glass. Add twist of orange (or try a twist of lemon).

If you think about states known for distilled spirits such as bourbon and whiskey, you might think about Kentucky or Tennessee. But Michigan is becoming home to its own distilleries. That's being driven in part by a growing interest in craft cocktails.

The first thing you’re likely to notice in these craft cocktail bars is all the fruit and jars of fresh herbs such as mint and rosemary. You’re not going to find premixed bottles of corn-syrup-laden sweet and sour here. It’s all about real aromas and flavors.

Right now, there are several craft cocktail bars mostly in southeast Michigan (see some favorites at the end of this story).  One of them is The Last Word where we talked with manager Robben Schulz. He says they’re always looking for new spirits to give their drinks some depth, some interest. Some of them are being made here in Michigan.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new Michigan State University survey finds a growing number of school lunch rooms, hospitals cafeterias and other institutions are interested in filling their pantries with locally grown food.

MSU’s Center for Regional Food Systems has been asking institutions about whether they buy locally grown fruits, vegetables and other food staples since 2004.

Center director Michael Hamm says the number of school cafeterias buying local has tripled in the last decade. But he says there’s only so much more local farmers can produce now.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Some prospective Michigan State University students say they're frustrated by the school's policy allowing deferred admission.

Jim Cotter, the school's director of admissions, tells The Detroit News that the East Lansing university's admissions practice has been in place for more than a decade. It was set up to manage application growth and ensure quality.

Unlike schools that offer a fall wait-list option, Michigan State guarantees some students a place if they wait until January to start.

Anthony Seely is among is one of about 1,000 who have been granted deferred admission. He can't enroll for fall classes unless space opens. The 18-year-old from Grosse Pointe Shores must decide this month whether to take the offer or go to another school.

Seely says it makes the planning process difficult.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

For the first time in nearly a half century, people will be encouraged to fish along a portion of the Red Cedar River as it winds its way through the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing.

At a ceremony Monday near the campus’s western edge, MSU dignitaries, including Sparty, took turns dumping buckets of Steelhead trout into the meandering Red Cedar River.

Organizers want anglers to start casting their lines into the Red Ceder in hopes of reeling in the sportfish.

That’s a big change.

YouTube

The zombie apocalypse has spread to Spartan Nation.

This week, hundreds of Michigan State students are participating in the third annual "Spartans versus Zombies" game.

Here's an 'informational video':

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with Shannon Mazurie, who helped bring the game to campus and is the organizer of this year's event.

Listen to the audio above to find out if and how Spartans are surviving, how zombies "eat" humans, and how Spartans manage to make it to class with zombies chasing them.

http://econ.msu.edu

Today, Michigan becomes the nation's 24th right-to-work state. It's the second in the Midwest, after Indiana.

The law was passed with much controversy and thousands of demonstrators packing in and around the state Capitol last December.

A new poll out today shows that Michiganders are deeply divided over the new law.

Michigan State University’s  “State of the State Survey” asked more than a thousand people whether they thought right-to-work would be good for Michigan’s economy.

42 percent said it would be good and 41 percent said it would be bad, while 16 percent said right-to-work would have no effect on Michigan’s economy.

Charley Ballard,  economist at MSU, directs the survey and he filled us in on what the percentages look like and what people really think about right-to-work.

Listen to the full interview above.

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March Madness tips off for Michigan and Michigan State on Thursday at the Palace of Auburn Hills, but for fans of the two schools, the madness has already started online. 

Earlier this week, Facebook unveiled a set of maps showing the most-liked college basketball team in every county across the United States. The map is based on more than 1 million Facebook likes.  

And while U-M and MSU were pretty evenly matched on the court this year — the teams split two meetings during the regular season — Wolverine fans are delivering a butt-kicking on Facebook. 

Only seven counties in the whole state support the Spartans over the Wolverines, according to a map comparing the two schools directly. Nationally, wide swatches of the country are painted maize, showing support for Michigan, with only a few patches of green. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Hundreds of Michigan cities are not saving enough to cover their future retiree health care costs.

A new report says more than 300 Michigan municipalities have in excess of $13 billion in unfunded liabilities for health care costs of retired public employees.

Michigan State University researchers found only half of the municipalities are prefunding retiree health care. The rest are setting aside no money despite longer lifespans and rapidly rising health costs.

While the collective bill of funding those benefits is $12.7 billion, the bulk of it, almost $11 billion, is attributable to local governments in a 10-county region of Southeast Michigan including Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties. The city of Detroit alone will owe $5 billion in retiree health care costs.

But MSU professor Eric Scorsone says cities like Grand Rapids, Flint, Lansing and Saginaw also face difficult choices.

“That’s already happening today….these cities…are paying millions of dollars in retiree premiums so it’s already having an effect and it will have an even bigger effect in the future,” says Scorsone.

Scorsone says the new national health care law may help some.   But tax increases, budget cuts or broken promises to retirees are inevitable, unless the state takes action.

Icare4autism.com

A new Michigan State University study finds a link between autism and a brain abnormality in low birth weight babies.

Tammy Movsas is an assistant professor of pediatrics at MSU and medical director of the Midland County Department of Public Health.

She’s been studying ultrasounds of low birth weight babies. She discovered babies were seven times more likely to develop autism if they had enlarged cavities in the brain that store spinal fluid.

Christoph Benning, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at MSU
Courtesy: Michigan State University

Michigan State University researchers are celebrating the marriage of a weed and an algae gene -- and its value as a potential biofuel. 

The team found that adding an algae gene to mustard weed caused the plant to store oil in its leaves, and the technique could be used to get more energy out of plants grown for bio-fuel.

This story includes historically racist language that some readers may find offensive.

We're in the midst of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

So your great uncle, the war re-enactor, is probably having the time of his life.

But for those who have trouble sitting through all nine episodes of the Ken Burns “Civil War” documentary, now there’s something for us, a new online archive is bringing Michigan’s Civil War letters into the Google Age.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Tens of billions of dollars in federal spending cuts will take effect March first, unless Congress does something to stop the sequestration.

And Michigan’s major research universities may be among those feeling the sting.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Joel Ferguson has been re-elected to a fourth two-year term as chairman of the Michigan State University Board of Trustees.

At a special meeting Friday, the board also elected Brian Breslin of Williamston to a two-year term as vice chairman.

Ferguson first was elected to the MSU board in 1986. The Lansing resident was elected again in 1996, 2004 and 2012. He was elected board chairman in 1992, 2007 and 2010.

Ferguson is the co-founder of F & S Development Company.

wikimedia commons

A group of Michigan State University researchers say violence spreads through communities in much the same way diseases do.

The researchers looked at homicide data from Newark, New Jersey over a 26-year period, from 1982-2008.

Researcher and study author April Zeoli says the work stemmed from the perception that violence is “contagious.”

user: jdurham / morguefile

Though expensive, the lifetime return of a college education continues to be unequivocal.

On today's show, University of Michigan Vice Provost Martha Pollack and Michigan State University College of Education Dean Don Heller address the long-term value of a college education.

They both say state funding cuts continue to propel tuition increases.

“Our state funding at University of Michigan on a per student basis has declined by 50%,” said Pollack.

New research from Michigan State University shows novice teachers need a good working relationship with their school’s principal.

MSU researchers interviewed new elementary and middle school teachers in Michigan and Indiana.   The study found novice teachers don't seem to mind heavy workloads or a lack of resources.

But the researcher did find many teachers who said they were ready to look for another job or quit the profession entirely, if they felt they weren’t getting the support they needed from their school’s principal.

larrysphatpage / flickr

An increasing amount of Chinese students are enrolling in American universities.

Because more Chinese students are now graduating from high school than ever before, there exists the demand for collegiate opportunities.

“It’s a strong reflection of the Chinese middle class. There is also a liberalization of U.S. visas to allow Chinese students to come here,” said Peter Briggs.

Briggs directs Michigan State University’s Office of International Students and Scholars.

Sharing her story was study abroad was Jing Cui. An undergrad student at MSU, Jing Cui considered America upon attending a Chinese university for a year.

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