ICYMI: Hantz Farms sells out, COVID-19 shots approved for children ages 5-11, Aretha tops Rolling Stone list, and more 

click to enlarge Hantz Woodlands pictured in 2018. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • Hantz Woodlands pictured in 2018.

Nearly a decade ago, when Hantz Farms was asking the Detroit City Council for approval to buy more than 1,500 parcels of blighted land for an urban tree farm on the city’s lower east side, critics blasted the project as a land grab. At $350 per parcel, the deal was a virtual giveaway with no long-term guarantees. To temper criticism, John Hantz, the wealthy entrepreneur behind the project, insisted he did not plan to sell large chunks of land for profit, at least not in the short-term. But since 2019, Hantz has sold 147 properties for an estimated $2.8 million, according to Crain’s Detroit Business. Of those, 37 parcels were sold to the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority as part of a land swap to make way for a new Fiat Chrysler Automobiles assembly plant, and the remaining 110 properties went to commercial and real estate developers. While Hantz still owns more than 90% of the land, the sale of nearly 150 properties suggests that his critics were at least partly right.

A Roseville woman accused of assaulting a Black Muslim passenger aboard a Spirit Airlines flight to Detroit over the weekend was charged with a hate crime last week. Alexandra Lynn Farr, 39, was charged with ethnic intimidation and assault after prosecutors say she shouted racial slurs at a 29-year-old passenger on Saturday, the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The incident occurred after the victim Aicha Toure, who was wearing an Islamic head scarf, asked Farr to stop harassing and intimidating an older woman who appeared to be of South Asian descent. Farr responded by hurling anti-Islamic slurs at Toure and striking her hand and phone as Toure tried to capture the interaction on video, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

Rolling Stone magazine has released an update of its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and we’re not surprised to see that Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” topped the list as the absolute best. After all, the Queen of Soul’s voice was declared a natural resource in 1985 by the state of Michigan, and she was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “Respect” found new life this summer with the highly anticipated release of Franklin’s biopic of the same name. Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” was also featured at No. 90 on the list. Detroit was well-represented on the top of the list, with the always relevant Motown hit “What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye sitting at the No. 6 spot.

COVID-19 cases are rising in Michigan, especially in areas of the state where people are still unvaccinated. These are the vast majority of the people Dr. Rob Davidson, a doctor working in an emergency room in a rural part of the state, says he has been treating in recent weeks. On Thursday, Davidson took to Twitter to shed some light on what he's seeing on the ground in a district where 70% of residents voted for Donald Trump in 2020, and misinformation runs rampant. “I don't ask them where they get their news, but judging by what is on TV when I go in their rooms, @FoxNews is the most likely answer,” he wrote, adding, “And as I go room to room, donning and doffing my protective gear, constantly asking people to please put on their masks, the sound of @seanhannity, @IngrahamAngle, or @TuckerCarlson on the TV is a painful reminder of the damage they have done to the people I serve.”

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe and highly effective in young children aged 5 to 11 years, according to data from a trial from the companies that has not yet been peer-reviewed. According to The New York Times, children now account for more than one in five new cases. The companies plan to apply for FDA approval by the end of the month. Trials are underway for children younger than 5.

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