Deadly disease finds its way to U.S. pigs

BY AMY ROBINSON
Agriculture officials are warning pig farmers to be aware of a new, deadly disease affecting pigs.
It’s called Porcine epidemic diarrhea, or PED, and it’s been reported in 14 states, including Michigan.
The disease does not affect humans and it doesn’t harm the quality of meat. It does however, cause vomiting and diarrhea in pigs and can result in death.
Beth Ferry is an educator with the Cooperative Extension Service.  
She said pigs in Europe and China, where PED was previously reported have developed some level of immunity. But US pigs have not and that means the disease could hit hard.
If we do get widespread PED, we can expect to see maybe a decline in pork numbers and that may affect pork prices for some of our consumers. 
Ferry said PED is spread through fecal contact; on shoes, the tires of vehicles, even by birds or mice. Agriculture officials are urging pig farmers to increase their bio-security in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease.
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MCO files collective action suit over portal to portal time

BY DAVID NICHOLAS
Yesterday, the Michigan Corrections Organization formally filed suit in U.S. District Court recoup what it said are wages owed for uncompensated portal to portal time.
Mel Grieshaber, spokesperson for the MCO, said compensation was paid three years ago.
The term refers to travel time, special instructions, or other duties from when an officer clocks in until he or she begins a work assignment
The suit is a collective action rather than class action because, under federal law, union-represented members must opt-in for legal representation. 
Grieshaber said at the time of yesterday’s filing, the union had received almost 2,300 consent forms, representing approximately one third of its 7,000 members. 
In addition, approximately one thousand retirees impacted by the change have been offered the chance to submit consent forms.
According to Grieshaber, members can submit the opt-in forms during a two-week window beyond the filing date.
Russ Marlin of the Michigan Department of Corrections said the state’s policy is to not comment on pending or current legal proceedings.

SVSU offers scholarships to graduates of India girls school

BY JESI MUNGUIA
Beginning next year, Saginaw Valley State University will offer six scholarships annually to graduates of an all girls high school in India. 
The schools have had an educational partnership since 2008.
Each spring four students from SVSU and two faculty members travel to India, while four students and two teachers from Kittu Rani Channamma come to Michigan.  
Jim Dwyer is the vice president of enrollment management at SVSU. 
He said it’s important for students to be exposed to different cultures
“You begin to see the incredible opportunities that our students need to get exposed to, truly exposed too. And as well as bringing these students back in this environment and the things that are shared and the dialogue that takes place it really opens your eyes that there’s a lot more to than where you reside and theres a lot better to have an understanding of cultures,” Dwyer said.
Dwyer said the goal is to bring in six new students a year and to grow their international student population. 

Wonders of the World comes to Michigan

BY ANTHONY RIZZO
The Seven Wonders of the World make up some of the planet’s most impressive and captivating destinations, places like the Great Pyramid or the Lighthouse at Alexandria. 
Now, a travel website wants to add an eighth wonder to the list, and several Michigan locations are in the running.
Five Michigan locations are among the 322 sites nominated by virtualtourist.com to become the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” 
They include the Soo Locks, the Village of Frankenmuth and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Tom Ulreich is the Deputy Superintendent at Sleeping Bear Dunes. 
He said he is proud the sand dunes are one of many places being considered for the honor.
“Certainly, I think that the recognition that Sleep Bear Dunes National Lakeshore merits nomination amongst all of these other attractions around the world does speak well for something we do have here in Michigan,” Ulreich said.
The public is being invited to vote online for their favorite destination. Voting is available through September 30th.

Efforts underway to be ready if judge strikes down gay marriage ban

BY RICK PLUTA
Michigan Public Radio Network
Some county clerks are already planning what to do if a federal judge overturns Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriages. There are efforts underway to create a gender-neutral version of Michigan’s marriage license and county wedding applications. 
Paul Holland and Austin Ashley are planning a commitment ceremony in late September.
Things appear to be coming together. A service at a Buddhist temple, followed by a reception with dancing, drinks, a cake. Well, if they can settle on a cake. Holland said there’s a disagreement there. 
“One of us is going to have to give in and give something to the other one, or we’ll just flip a coin, or however it needs to be resolved,” Holland said.
“Or I’ll just win,” Ashley said.
“I’ll let that go,” Holland said.
Sometime later this year, Holland and Ashley plan a trip to New York to be formally married in a state that permits same-sex weddings. Those plans could be altered depending on a decision by a federal judge in Detroit on or shortly after October first. Ashley and Holland said they’d hold a legal wedding ceremony in Michigan if U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman strikes down Michgan’s same-sex marriage ban and allows gay weddings to go ahead.
Some county clerks are not waiting for Judge Friedman’s ruling to prepare for those marriages. Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum said she wants to be ready at the earliest opportunity to waive fees and the three-day waiting period for the first same-sex couples in line to get married. 
“If the judge rules that same-sex couples may be married in our great state, than I would certainly welcome all loving couples to come before the Ingham County clerk and apply for their marriage license,” Byrum said. 
State officials said they intend to be prepared no matter what happens. The vital record division in the state Department of Community Health is already talking with county clerks about how to make their applications and the state’s official marriage license gender neutral.
 
“If and when it does happen, there will be a demand for that to happen fairly quickly, so we want to make sure we’re in a position to make that change need to be made,” Minicucci said. 
Angela Minicucci is with the Department of Community Health.
She said the state is also talking with officials in other states that already allow same-sex marriage. She said the biggest question is what to call the people applying for a marriage license.
“Some of the other states have used words such as ‘applicants’ or ‘parties,” so it’s a matter of what’s best for our state and just changing those simple pieces of the form,” Minicucci said. 
“They’re certainly premature because this issue may well be decided by the United States Supreme Court,” Glenn said.  
Gary Glenn of the American Family Association helped draft Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban. It was adopted by Michigan voters in 2004 as an amendment to the state constitution. He said the challenge to the ban will likely take years. 
“And, in the meantime, we’re urging the governor and the attorney general to continue to enforce Michigan’s constitution and statutory definition of marriage as only being between one man and one woman and that would include reflecting that legal definition on state marriage licenses,” Glenn said. 
And it is unlikely that same-sex marriages will be allowed in Michigan the moment Judge Friedman rules. His decision will almost certainly be appealed. The case would go first to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinatti, and then, possibly, to the Supreme Court.
Dana Nessel is an attorney for a lesbian couple that’s challenging the same-sex marriage ban. 
“The sooner we get a decision here, the sooner we get to the next and then, perhaps, the next level. And the sooner we’re hoping we’ll have equality in Michigan and maybe not just Michigan, maybe all of the sixth circuit, maybe all of America,” Nessel said. 
As long as the paperwork is ready. 
Copyright 2013, MPRN

Senate panel will take Medicaid vote Wednesday

BY JAKE NEHER
Michigan Public Radio Network
A state Senate panel is expected to vote Wednesday on a plan to expand Medicaid in Michigan. 
Lawmakers have made some changes to win more support from Senate Republicans.
State Senate Republicans refused to vote on the Medicaid expansion bill last month before their summer recess. Since then, a legislative work group has made relatively small changes to the proposal.
But Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said he thinks the changes will be enough to win over some of his GOP colleagues. 
“I think that there will be a lot more support. It’ll be broader support than the one that was put in front of us, when I don’t believe the votes were there,”Richardville said.
The bill would eventually extend Medicaid coverage to almost half-a-million Michigan residents through the Affordable Care Act. Some conservative state Senators say they won’t support any legislation that would further entrench Obamacare in Michigan. 
Copyright 2013, MPRN

MCO set to file class action over portal to portal time

BY DAVID NICHOLAS
The Michigan Corrections Organization is hoping to file a class action lawsuit today to recoup what it said are wages owed for uncompensated portal to portal time. 
The term refers to travel time, special instructions, or other duties from when an officer clocks in until he or she begins a work assignment.
Mel Grieshaber, spokesperson for the MCO, said compensation was paid for so-called portal to portal time until three years ago.
The union contacted its 7,000 current members and approximately 1,000 retirees impacted by the change. 
Federal law requires union-represented workers to opt-in for legal representation by signing a consent form. The MCO has been gathering those responses since early last week. As of mid afternoon yesterday, over 2,500 had been received. 
According to Grieshaber, members can submit the opt-in forms during a two-week window beyond the filing date. 
Russ Marlin of the Michigan Department of Corrections said the state’s policy is to not comment on pending or current legal proceedings.