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Mystery illness, rallying black voters, Earnhardt Jr. on concussions, wind energy in red states, pothole blues

Of note: Side Effects Public Media reports that a large portion of the cases of a rare polio-like disease, which begins as a common cold, have emerged in the Midwest. At least two cases have been confirmed in Wisconsin. In all, 155 children are suspected of contracting the infection, which can lead to weakness and paralysis of limbs and inability to breathe on one’s own. Said a top CDC official: “I am frustrated that despite all of our efforts, we haven’t been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness.”

WisconsinWeekly is produced by Dee and Andy Hall, a couple who founded the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Dee is the managing editor and Andy is the executive director.

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Forty Percent Of Rare ‘Polio-Like’ Cases Are In The Midwest

Side Effects Public Media — October 24, 2018

Children across the country — and especially in the Midwest — are coming down with acute flaccid myelitis, a rare condition that causes weakness and paralysis in the arms and legs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not sure what is causing the illness, which begins as a common cold and then attacks the spinal cord, but researchers suspect it could be caused by viruses such as enterovirus or West Nile virus. Experts recommend protecting children through hand washing, regular vaccinations and insect repellent.

Canvassers Reach Out To Black Voters In Effort To Buck Milwaukee’s Turnout Trend

Wisconsin Public Radio — October 24, 2018

In Milwaukee, canvassers are working to mobilize voters in the predominantly black neighborhoods where voter turnout declined sharply in the 2016 elections. One group, Souls to the Polls, recruits and trains church members to canvass neighborhoods and share basic information about voting. They are up against voter disillusionment and the obstacles and confusion caused by Wisconsin’s voter ID law. But the efforts may be working: Milwaukee’s voter turnout in the August primary was higher than usual, reports Wisconsin Public Radio.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Bringing Concussions Out of the Darkness

The New York Times — October 23, 2018

In a column for the New York Times, former Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. describes the concussions that forced him to retire and the treatment that helped him heal. “My rehabilitation in 2016 was the hardest I have ever worked,” he writes. “After months of work I could feel my brain, eyes, ears and body communicating properly again.” He argues that advancements in brain science can help other concussion sufferers to recover, “but all that science won’t mean much if those of us who are hurting don’t come out of hiding and allow it to be put to use.” Previously from WCIJ: Countering Concussions series

It’s the economics: Red states embracing wind energy don’t do it for the climate

The Conversation — October 22, 2018

The states that have embraced renewable energy include some of the most conservative in the country. While some states move toward renewable sources to combat climate change, others do so for economic reasons. Leading the nation in renewable energy production are Iowa and Kansas — windy Midwestern states that are now generating more than 30 percent of their energy from renewable sources. But Wisconsin lags behind most of its Midwest neighbors, with less than 4 percent of its energy coming from renewable sources.

Bad roads a boon to repair shops, tire sellers

Kenosha News — October 22, 2018

With the November election fast approaching, one issue on the minds of many Wisconsinites is the condition of the state’s highways and roads. In a series of stories, the Kenosha News examines the state of its local roads and impact on local residents. This story explores the select few who may appreciate the deteriorating roads: mechanics and tire companies. Other stories: in the series include Potholes: Not a hole lot of fun and What’s the worst road in Kenosha?

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism ( collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

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