WBEZ | Science http://www.wbez.org/news/science Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Illinois Supreme Court hears $10B Phillip Morris appeal http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-supreme-court-hears-10b-phillip-morris-appeal-112054 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/6447341369_db970e431f_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The fate of a $10.1 billion class-action judgment against the nation&#39;s largest cigarette maker is in the hands of justices at the Illinois Supreme Court, who heard oral arguments Tuesday in Phillip Morris USA&#39;s appeal to have the on-again, off-again verdict struck down.</p><p>The more than decade-old lawsuit &mdash; one of the nation&#39;s first to accuse a tobacco company of consumer fraud &mdash; claimed that Phillip Morris deceptively marketed &quot;light&quot; and &quot;low-tar&quot; cigarettes as a healthier alternative.</p><p>The initial Madison County trial ended in 2003 with the multibillion dollar verdict against Phillip Morris, a subsidiary of Virginia-based Altria Group Inc. The state&#39;s high court threw it out in 2005 only to have Illinois&#39; 5th District Appellate Court reinstate the verdict last year.</p><p>An attorney representing the hundreds of thousands of Illinois smokers asked the panel Tuesday to reject Phillip Morris&#39; appeal and let the judgment stand. David Frederick said the cigarette giant had carried out a &quot;massive fraud&quot; that &quot;light&quot; cigarettes &quot;were safer or healthier.&quot;</p><p>But former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson, one of two lawyers representing Phillip Morris during the 50-minute hearing, argued that the Illinois Supreme Court got it right ten years ago when it decided to jettison the trial court&#39;s verdict.</p><p>&quot;And that judgment is correct today,&quot; he said.</p><p>The core dispute has been whether the Federal Trade Commission allowed cigarette makers to label cigarettes &quot;light&quot; and &quot;low-tar,&quot; effectively shielding Phillip Morris from such suits. Phillip Morris says the FTC did give it permission to label cigarettes that way. But plaintiffs argued FTC didn&#39;t give its OK and it alleges that an agency decision in recent years confirmed that interpretation.</p><p>Thompson, though, said plaintiffs shouldn&#39;t be allowed to offer up new evidence of federal regulators&#39; intent so many years later.</p><p>&quot;Surely this is not a game of musical chairs depending on who sits in the chair of the FTC at any time,&quot; he said at the hearing.</p><p>The lawsuit sought compensation, not for damage to a smoker&#39;s health, but for the money they paid for what they thought were safer cigarettes based on the Phillip Morris advertising.</p><p>The hearing was held in Springfield and also broadcast live online. A ruling is likely to take at least several weeks.</p><p>Lloyd Karmeier was among the justices on Tuesday&#39;s panel. The plaintiffs had asked him to recuse himself because they say there could be a perception of bias in favor of Phillip Morris, based on reports the company gave money to groups backing his election to the bench.</p><p>In a 16-page explanation last year for why he wouldn&#39;t take himself off the case, Karmeier said the plaintiffs&#39; attorneys had offered no evidence to support a view he couldn&#39;t be even-handed.</p><p>&quot;Rumor, speculation, belief, conclusion, suspicion, opinion or similar non-factual matter are not sufficient,&quot; he wrote.</p></p> Tue, 19 May 2015 16:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-supreme-court-hears-10b-phillip-morris-appeal-112054 Sheriff names clinical psychologist to run Cook County Jail http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-names-clinical-psychologist-run-cook-county-jail-112053 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/jail.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>A clinical psychologist has been picked to lead a Chicago jail that is one of the largest in the country.</p><p>Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart tapped Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia to lead the 9,000-inmate facility. Dart has long complained that drastic cuts to mental health programs have turned jails into dumping grounds for the mentally ill.</p><p>The American Jail Association said it knows of no other jail in the United States being headed by someone with the background of Jones Tapia. She previously was the jail&#39;s first assistant executive director.</p><p>As many as 35 percent of the jail&#39;s inmates suffer from serious mental illness. Dart says it has become &quot;one of the largest mental health institutions in the country.&quot;</p></p> Tue, 19 May 2015 16:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-names-clinical-psychologist-run-cook-county-jail-112053 Little Bison on the Prairie http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/little-bison-prairie-112013 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/bison.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Prairie conservationists are celebrating the births of more than 10 baby bison at Nachusa Wildlands in Northern Illinois. They are counting on this thriving herd of bison to bring back the growing prairie.</p><p><iframe scrolling="no" src="//www.storehouse.co/stories/48x2d-little-bison-on-the-prairie/embed" style="width:100%;max-width:600px;height:300px;border:none;"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 11 May 2015 15:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/little-bison-prairie-112013 As Whole Foods breaks ground, Englewood residents make their pitch http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/whole-foods-breaks-ground-englewood-residents-make-their-pitch-111995 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/wf.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s been more than a year-and-a-half since Whole Foods announced it was setting up shop in Chicago&rsquo;s Englewood neighborhood, and the store&rsquo;s opening is still more than a year away.</p><p>But that doesn&rsquo;t mean the community is sitting idly by. Residents are actively engaging with Whole Foods about the role of an organic grocery store chain in a food desert at the corner of 63rd and Halsted.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s been wonderful. I think that Whole Foods has been very committed to everything going on here,&rdquo; said Glen Fulton, executive director of the Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation, whose office is across the street in a U.S. Bank branch overlooking the construction site.</p><p>When the high-end grocer first announced it was moving to this high-poverty community some Chicagoans were shocked. But the company is trying to shed its elite label &mdash; it says part of its mission is bringing healthy options to areas riddled with junk food.</p><p>Store officials say prices will be competitive and affordable here. They also say Whole Foods is committed to being more than just an anchor tenant on a vacant lot.</p><p>The company first tested this food desert experiment a couple years ago in Detroit. It was the first national grocer to come into the city and so far it&rsquo;s been mostly a success.</p><p>In Englewood, Whole Foods has held community meetings and listened to residents who want classes on nutrition and shopping on a budget.</p><p>Fulton said he went straight to Whole Foods&rsquo; CEO with one request.</p><p>&ldquo;The first thing I wanted was for small businesses to be a part of this whole initiative for this Englewood community. Meaning that I need your support in trying to help them do business with Whole Food,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Fulton is a former director of supplier diversity at Albertsons, another major grocery chain.</p><p>&ldquo;And the second part is that we include diversity as far as diverse suppliers are concerned. So if you&rsquo;re a person of color or a woman, let&rsquo;s break down the barriers&nbsp;of trying to do business with Whole Foods,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Rachel Bernier-Green, a black South Sider, attended a free small business workshop series and learned about proper licensing and packaging. She owns &lsquo;Laine&rsquo;s Bake Shop and met a Whole Foods district manager.</p><p>&ldquo;He came out to our table and took the rest of the cookies of his favorite flavor, everything I had on display that day. So I think they enjoyed the texture of the cookies,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>So much so that Whole Foods worked with Bernier-Green to find a distributor.</p><p>Soon her mocha raspberry, citrus spritz and butter pecan bites will be in three Chicago Whole Foods. Next year the desserts will be in the store at 63rd and Halsted.</p><p>&ldquo;I think they were also impressed with the story of our company, why we exist and what we plan to do,&rdquo; Bernier-Green added.</p><p>Her small family-owned business has a social mission: hiring those who have struggled with homelessness as well as the formerly incarcerated. Each year hundreds of parolees with criminal records return to Englewood and can&rsquo;t find work.</p><p>&ldquo;We wanted to know, Whole Foods, are you going to hire people with records? We had been previously told that hands-down no, they aren&rsquo;t going to hire anybody with records,&rdquo; said Sonya Harper, executive director of Grow Greater Englewood, a food justice group. &ldquo;Whole Foods really heard our concerns as a community and they are now coming up with a program to hire people with records at that store.&rdquo;</p><p>Whole Foods says it wants to partner with social service agencies to increase opportunities for those facing employment barriers.</p><p>Meanwhile, &lsquo;Laine&rsquo;s Bake Shop is the only new confirmed supplier for the Englewood Whole Foods.</p><p>Store officials say more shelf space is available and they hope to develop some brand new businesses in the process.</p><p>There&rsquo;s still time. The next small business workshop series will be this fall.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a></em></p><p><em>Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Thu, 07 May 2015 04:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/whole-foods-breaks-ground-englewood-residents-make-their-pitch-111995 Illinois medical marijuana approved for PTSD, osteoarthritis http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-medical-marijuana-approved-ptsd-osteoarthritis-111985 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP366129178406 (2)_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>An Illinois advisory board has voted to recommend that post-traumatic stress disorder among military veterans be added to the list of qualifying conditions in the state&#39;s medical marijuana program.</p><p>Board member Jim Champion, who&#39;s a military veteran, announced the unanimous decision of the board Monday, saying he was &quot;very, very proud.&quot; The recommendation now goes to the Illinois Department of Public Health.</p><p>The decision at a public hearing in Chicago was among several votes Monday on various conditions submitted by public petition. Board members earlier voted against adding diabetes and anxiety to the list. They said anxiety was too broad, but left open the possibility of adding severe anxiety in the future.</p><p>The board also voted to approve osteoarthritis.</p><p>The board includes patients, nurses, doctors and a pharmacist.</p></p> Mon, 04 May 2015 17:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-medical-marijuana-approved-ptsd-osteoarthritis-111985 Sheriff's office announces new mental health clinic http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriffs-office-announces-new-mental-health-clinic-111979 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Mental health jail.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-1d687b03-119d-3f9e-cb1c-805194ec9b5e">Cook County Sheriff&rsquo;s office is &nbsp;launching a new mental health clinic in the south suburbs. Sheriff Tom Dart says the clinic is a direct response to government mental health cuts.</p><p dir="ltr">The clinic is already operating at the Markham Courthouse. People detained there will be screened for mental health needs. Some will then be diverted from the jail to the new clinic under court order. The clinic will also be available to people leaving county jail and seeking services.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/large-provider-chicago-mental-health-services-c4-closing-111937" target="_blank">Staff mourn closure of mental health provider C4</a></strong></p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If no one else is going to do it, we are going to,&rdquo; said Cara Smith, director of Cook County Jail.</p><p dir="ltr">She says the jail is doing what it can, but it&rsquo;s part of a larger system. She says the millions of dollars in proposed state cuts to mental health would be catastrophic. But if the cuts go through it will not be the first time she&rsquo;s seen services disappear. In 2012 the city cut half its mental health clinics, and just last week one of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/large-provider-chicago-mental-health-services-c4-closing-111937">largest mental health providers in Chicago announced it was closing its doors. </a></p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Our custodial population in the jail is almost at a record low. But our population of &nbsp;medically and mentally ill people that need hospital level care is at an all time high,&rdquo; said Smith. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">It is not only the jail that says it has felt a change as services have closed. Emergency Rooms in Chicago saw a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/large-provider-chicago-mental-health-services-c4-closing-111937">37 percent rise in ER discharges for psychiatric care. </a></p><p>Dart says he chose to open the clinic in the south suburbs because the area is extremely lacking in mental health services. The clinic is run in collaboration with Adler Community Health Services.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a reporter at WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Fri, 01 May 2015 17:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriffs-office-announces-new-mental-health-clinic-111979 Canine flu outbreak sickens hundreds of dogs in Midwest http://www.wbez.org/news/canine-flu-outbreak-sickens-hundreds-dogs-midwest-111880 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/dog nose_flickr_dickuhne.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>MADISON, Wis. &mdash; A canine flu outbreak has sickened many dogs in the Midwest, and veterinarians are cautioning pet owners to keep their dogs from going nose-to-nose with other four-legged friends.</p><p>The University of Wisconsin-Madison&#39;s School of Veterinary Medicine says the virus has sickened at least 1,000 dogs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana. Recent tests from the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory have identified the strain as H3N2. Clinical assistant professor Keith Poulsen says it&#39;s not yet known how effective current vaccines are against this strain, which is believed to have come from Asia.</p><p>He said an older strain, H3N8, has also been detected in the region.</p><p>Both viruses can cause persistent cough, runny nose and fever in dogs. Experts say a small percentage will develop more severe symptoms. The H3N2 infection has been associated with some deaths.</p><p>Poulsen said pet owners with sick dogs should call a veterinarian to schedule a test outside the veterinary clinic and should not bring dogs into areas where they could interact with other dogs.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s really no different if you&#39;re talking about dogs or toddlers, if you think they&#39;re sick, don&#39;t bring them to daycare,&quot; Poulsen said.</p><p>Veterinarians say neither canine strain is related to bird flu or is contagious to humans, but the H3N2 strain could sicken cats.</p><p>Renee Brantner Shanesy, who owns the Ruffin&#39; It Resort in Madison, said the kennel required immunizations against H3N8 for all dogs boarded there late last week. Shanesy said she is now recommending, not requiring, the vaccination after veterinarians said it will not protect against the H3N2 strain.</p><p>&quot;The philosophy we&#39;re taking is, just like the human flu, everyone has to take the precaution for himself,&quot; she said.</p><p>Shanesy said she hasn&#39;t seen panic among dog owners, but the kennel is increasing its sanitizing practices. She said she had her two dogs vaccinated last week and she has cut out trips to the dog park to reduce the risk of exposure.</p><p>&quot;Like any other pet owner right now, I&#39;m not 100 percent comfortable,&quot; Shanesy said. &quot;Anything I can do to give them a better chance of immunity, I&#39;m in.&quot;</p><p>Sarah Duchemin, who works at The Dog Den in Madison, said the kennel has been monitoring its dogs for symptoms, and that if a dog shows up with a runny nose or is sneezing, it would be isolated and sent home. She said the kennel hasn&#39;t had a dog show any flu symptoms yet, but it cleans its floors and cages every day to prevent the spread of disease.</p><p>Luanne Moede, owner of the First Class Pet Lodge in Wausau, told the Wausau Daily Herald that clients are being asked if dogs have traveled out of the state. Moede also said she is informing pet owners about the disease.</p><p>In Illinois, vets say the cases are slowing but are still coming in. Chicago resident Jennifer Roache&#39;s mixed breed dog, Roxy-Rocket, is recovering after coming down with canine flu while boarded at Tucker Pup&#39;s Dog Activity Center last week while the family was away during spring break. Roache knew she was taking a risk by boarding the family pet during the outbreak, but she feels the boarding facility handled it well when the dog began to cough.</p><p>&quot;They got her to the vet right away and she was on antibiotics right away,&quot; Roache said. &quot;It feels a lot like when my kids get the flu. ... I&#39;m going to be watching her very closely when the antibiotics run out.&quot;</p></p> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 16:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/canine-flu-outbreak-sickens-hundreds-dogs-midwest-111880 'Right to Try' measure passes Illinois House http://www.wbez.org/news/right-try-measure-passes-illinois-house-111878 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/medicine_flickr_epSos .de_.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; The Illinois House has approved a measure that would grant greater access to experimental drugs for terminally-ill patients.</p><p>Rep. Greg Harris is the chief sponsor of the legislation. The Chicago Democrat and other backers of establishing a &quot;Right to Try&quot; Act in Illinois say it gives those who have exhausted conventional treatments a chance at drugs that have only passed the first phase of federal testing and increases patient choice.</p><p>The measure passed with a vote of 114-1. It now moves to the Illinois Senate.</p><p>The lone &quot;no&quot; vote was Rep. Al Riley. The Democrat from suburban Olympia Fields says that he agrees with the concept of allowing more options for the terminally-ill but had concerns about safety.</p></p> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 15:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/right-try-measure-passes-illinois-house-111878 Energy Department awards Argonne $200 million for new supercomputer http://www.wbez.org/news/science/energy-department-awards-argonne-200-million-new-supercomputer-111853 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/argonne.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The U.S. Department of Energy announced Thursday that it will give Argonne National Laboratory $200 million to make the Chicago-area home to a high-performance supercomputer that is five to seven times faster than current top supercomputers.</p><p>&quot;The Aurora supercomputer will advance low-carbon energy technologies and our fundamental understanding of the universe,&quot; Undersecretary for Science and Energy Lynn Orr said in a statement. Aurora will be available for scientific use in 2019 and use Intel Corp. system framework.</p><p>The goal is to build a supercomputer that will help the U.S. compete internationally with other next-generation computing efforts and ensure the United States&#39; economic and national security, agency officials said. The agency said Aurora specifically will be able to help develop materials that will lead to more powerful and efficient batteries and solar panels. Its other research areas include biological science, transportation and renewable energy.</p><p>Argonne National Laboratory is an Energy Department research center located about 25 miles west of Chicago.</p><p>The award is the third and final part of the $525 million Collaboration of Oak Ridge, Argonne, and Lawrence Livermore, or CORAL, initiative that started in November. The Energy Department previously announced $325 million to build supercomputers its laboratories in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Lawrence Livermore in Livermore, California.</p></p> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 16:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/energy-department-awards-argonne-200-million-new-supercomputer-111853 Ice stalls Great Lakes shipping season http://www.wbez.org/news/ice-stalls-great-lakes-shipping-season-111806 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Great Lakes_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For the second year in a row, the spring shipping season is off to a slow start. Ice still covers much of the lakes and most ports don&rsquo;t expect to see international cargo ships for another two weeks.</p><p>April is historically the busiest time of year for the more than 100 ports and commercial docks along the Great Lakes.</p><p>Rick Heimann is port director for Burns Harbor in Portage, Indiana.</p><p>Burns Harbor handles more international cargo than any other port along the Great Lakes, including 15 percent of U.S. steel shipments to Europe. But at the end of March, the docks are empty.</p><p>On any given year, an average of 500,000 trucks, 10,000 railcars and 100 ships will pass through the port.</p><p>It was so cold last year, he didn&rsquo;t see a cargo ship until mid-April.</p><p>Around this time last year, more than half of Lake Michigan was covered in ice. The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard share the responsibility of clearing the Great Lakes waterways.</p><p>Every year, in early March, they deploy a fleet of icebreakers before the official opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, a 22,000-mile-long waterway that connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.</p><p>But U.S. Coast Guard Mark Gill says it was 13 days after opening up the waterway that the first ship was able to reach the locks.</p><p>&ldquo;And a lot of ships incurred damage because they came out and the ice was too hard for them,&rdquo; Gill said.</p><p>Gill says the Coast Guard logged more than 11,000 hours of breaking ice in 2014.</p><p>According to the Lake Carrier&rsquo;s Association, last year&rsquo;s icey waterways cost the economy more than $700 million and nearly 4,000 jobs.</p><p>Mark Baker is president of the Interlake Steamship Company and a member of the Lake Carrier&rsquo;s Association. His boats carry steel. Others along this route carry grains.</p><p>Baker says it took one his ships 23 days to complete a trip that normally takes six.</p><p>&ldquo;And so what happened there was, their inventory levels became critically low. And in some cases, some steel mills last year had to idle plants and cut down on on production,&rdquo; Baker said.</p><p>Baker adds that the the repercussions of a bad shipping season would be felt throughout the U.S. steel industry, which feeds the U.S. auto industry. Baker says his steel is used in small plants in Michigan and Wisconsin.&nbsp;</p><p>The Lake Carriers Association wants the Coast Guard to invest in another heavy icebreaker to keep shipping lanes open during harsh winters.</p><p>But the Coast Guard says last year&rsquo;s winter was unique.</p><p>At the port of Indiana, Heimann says that&#39;s what scary.</p><p>&ldquo;Ice is something that you don&rsquo;t have control over,&rdquo; Heimann said. &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t just say: &lsquo;Ice be-gone or bring the coast guard cutter in all the time.&rsquo;&quot;</p><p>He adds that the delayed start to the 2015 season doesn&#39;t phase him, but he is counting the days until the first ships roll in.</p><p>&ldquo;We are connecting the state of Indiana to the world,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re in the state of Indiana, the heartland of the USA, yet we are only six and a half days away from the Atlantic Ocean.&rdquo;</p><p>Last year, at a time of widespread delays, Burns Harbor recorded its highest cargo volume since the port opened in 1970.</p><p><em>Claudia Morell is a reporter in Chicago. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/claudiamorell" target="_blank">@claudiamorell</a></em></p><p><em>Front and Center is funded by The Joyce Foundation: Improving the quality of life in the Great Lakes region and across the country.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ice-stalls-great-lakes-shipping-season-111806