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"Poverty and lack of knowledge must be challenged" -- Russell Simmons, American music entrepreneur and philanthropist.

* This New Yorker piece lays out a case for having national chains take over American health care, thereby ensuring consistent quality. Marianne Udow-Phillips of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation in Ann Arbor wrote in Bridge recently about the positive effects from health-care consolidation in Michigan:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/08/13/120813fa_fact_gawande?currentPage=all

* Plastic waste isn't just a problem for the world's oceans. The Great Lakes suffer with it, too, "led" by Lake Erie:

http://allthingsgreatlakes.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/plastics-pollution-not-just-in-oceans-great-lakes-also-affected/

* Maps showing the state or regulatory play on "fracking" -- the process of fracturing geologic formations to help release natural gas or oil:

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/climate_desk/2012/08/fracking_laws_by_state_wastewater_notifications_and_chemical_mixes.html

* Michiganians, and the rest of planet Earth, should get accustomed to a new normal when it comes to summer temperatures and extreme weather, argues a group of scientists studying climate trends:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/climate-change-is-here--and-worse-than-we-thought/2012/08/03/6ae604c2-dd90-11e1-8e43-4a3c4375504a_story.html

* A quick overview of what other states are doing on performance-based funding for higher education. Performance-based funding has come up as an issue in Michigan, as Bridge reported last winter.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/college_guide/blog/performancebased_funding_for_s.php

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