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Weather
4:24 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

Wildfire in the U.P. burns 3,200 acres

The wildfire shown at Seney National Wildlife Refuge in Michigan's Upper Peninsula on Wednesday, May 23, 2012. The fire has burned at least 3,200 acres.
USFWS

SENEY, Mich. (AP) - Officials say a wildfire believed to have been triggered by lightning has expanded to at least 3,200 acres of a wildlife refuge in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says crews are working Thursday to control the fire at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. High winds and dry conditions have hampered firefighting efforts.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says the blaze that was estimated at 2,500 acres Wednesday had spread to at least 3,200 acres Thursday.

So far, no injuries or building damage have been reported.

Michigan Highway 28 remains open as aerial control efforts succeed in limiting the spread south of the highway.

The fire started Sunday. The refuge covers 95,000 acres in northern Schoolcraft County, about 85 miles west of Sault Ste. Marie.

Business
10:55 am
Thu May 24, 2012

AP: US Supreme Court rules in favor of Detroit-based Quicken Loans

flicker.com user:trame

 WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court says home loan applicants cannot sue a mortgage company for charging them a loan discount fee without giving them a loan discount.

The high court on Thursday unanimously ruled for Quicken Loans, which was fighting a lawsuit from Tammy and Larry Freeman and other families. The company argued Congress wrote the law to say only that the fee would be illegal if Quicken split it with someone else. The justices, in an opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia, agreed.

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Economy
10:05 am
Thu May 24, 2012

Dow Chemical gets $2 billion award for canceled Kuwait project

Dow Chemical's headquarters in Midland.
wikimedia commons

Dow Chemical says an international court has awarded it $2.16 billion in damages from its dispute with Petrochemical Industries Co., a subsidiary of state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corp.

Dow shares are up 4 percent in trading Thursday before the opening bell.

Midland, Mich.-based Dow, one of the world's largest chemical companies, formed a $17.4 billion joint venture with the Kuwaiti company in 2008 to produce plastics for consumer products, automotive parts and drug processing. But the deal was scrapped later that year by that country's government following lawmaker criticism that could have led to a political crisis in the small oil-rich state.

"This outcome brings resolution and closure to the issue," Andrew Liveris, Dow`s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement.  "We remain focused on continuing to move forward with our transformation and profitable business partnerships -- both in Kuwait and around the world."

Dow has Chemical Co. been doing business with Kuwait for nearly 40 years.

Environment & Science
7:27 am
Wed May 23, 2012

Wildfire burning in the Upper Peninsula

SENEY, Mich. (AP) - Officials say a wildfire in Michigan's Upper Peninsula has burned at least 600 acres of a wildlife refuge.

The Mining Journal of Marquette and WLUC-TV report the fire at Seney National Wildlife Refuge in Schoolcraft County is believed to have been started Sunday by a lightning strike. It grew Monday and continued to burn on Tuesday. Officials say dry conditions contributed to its spread.

A message seeking updated information about the fire was left Wednesday morning by The Associated Press with an official at the refuge.

No injuries or damage to buildings was reported. The refuge plans to evaluate whether to close trails in the area for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

Education
7:25 am
Wed May 23, 2012

Flint school district laying off hundreds of teachers

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - The Flint school board has voted to lay off 237 teachers as part of an effort to eliminate an estimated $20 million deficit for the coming year.

The board voted Tuesday to lay off 108 elementary and 129 secondary school teachers.

Earlier this month, Mlive.com (http://bit.ly/JnOdC1 ) says the board voted to close both middle schools, along with Bunche and Summerfield elementary schools.

Crime
3:20 pm
Tue May 22, 2012

Jury finds Elias Abuelazam, accused serial stabber in Flint, guilty of murder

Elias Abuelazam (file photo)
(courtesy of the Genesee County Prosecutor's office)

Update:

A man suspected of stabbing 14 men in and around Flint, Mich., two summers ago has been convicted of first-degree murder in the first case to go to trial.

A Genesee County jury convicted Elias Abuelazam (EE'-lee-us ah-BOOL'-ah-zahm) on Tuesday of fatally stabbing 49-year-old Arnold

Minor in August 2010. Minor's blood was found on Abuelazam's clothes and in his SUV. Abuelazam was arrested trying to board a plane to his native Israel.

Investigators say Abuelazam asked for directions or help with car trouble before stabbing his victims. Five of the 14 Flint-area victims died. Abuelazam also is charged with stabbing someone in Toledo, Ohio, and is suspected in attacks in Leesburg, Va.

Abuelazam's attorneys argued he was insane that summer. A psychiatrist said he was compelled by violent delusions.

12:27 pm:

A lawyer for an Israeli immigrant charged with murder in a Michigan stabbing spree is telling jurors to find him not guilty by reason of insanity.

Attorney Ed Zeineh says Elias Abuelazam heard voices and saw black clouds two summers ago and fits the profile of a paranoid schizophrenic.

Jurors are hearing closing arguments Tuesday in Genesee County court.  Abuelazam is on trial for the fatal stabbing of 49-year-old Arnold Minor. Prosecutors say he was not mentally ill and should be held criminally responsible.

Fourteen people were stabbed in and around Flint two summers ago, and five died. Abuelazam is charged in nine of those stabbings, including three deaths. He's charged with attempted murder in Toledo, Ohio.

Environment & Science
9:11 pm
Mon May 21, 2012

Feds release documents linked to the Kalamazoo River oil spill investigation

(file photo)
(EPA)

MARSHALL, Mich. (AP) — Federal officials have released photographs and 5,000 pages of documents related to the pipeline rupture in southwestern Michigan that polluted the Kalamazoo River and a tributary creek nearly two years ago.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what caused the leak, which spilled more than 800,000 gallons of crude near Marshall in Calhoun County. Spokesman Peter Knudson said Monday the NTSB expects to reach a conclusion this summer.

The newly released material includes photos of the damaged pipe, reports outlining the sequence of events following the July 25, 2010 rupture and interviews with emergency responders and officials with Enbridge Inc., owner of the pipeline.

The 30-inch line extends from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario. Enbridge announced plans last week to enlarge the pipe so it can carry more oil.

Environment & Science
1:11 pm
Sat May 19, 2012

Toledo Zoo opens new elephant space

Lucas the elephant
Toledo Zoo

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The elephants at one Ohio zoo have a new home to roam.

The Toledo Zoo is showing off its new $15 million elephant exhibit this weekend. Zoo officials say the new area will give its four elephants more places to move and stretch their trunks.

The area called the Tembo Trail also has spruced up the zoo's home for its lions, rhinos and hippos.

The zoo's director tells The Blade newspaper in Toledo that zookeepers will be able to raise and lower the food hanging from man-made trees to give the elephants a little extra physical and mental stimulation.

The exhibit also gives visitors a better view of the elephants, including the baby of the group, 800-pound Lucas who was born last June.

State Legislature
6:56 am
Fri May 18, 2012

Mich. Dems seek repeal of 'stand your ground' laws

More than a dozen Democratic Michigan House members have introduced legislation to repeal the state's "stand your ground" self-defense law after the fatal shooting of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

The lawmakers on Thursday announced the measure to repeal 2006 laws passed by bipartisan majorities in the Legislature and signed by then-Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Backers say such laws protect innocent lives. Detractors say they can become a license to kill and are prone to misuse.

Michigan is among several states with laws similar to Florida's targeted by civil rights and anti-gun violence groups.

Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman fatally shot Martin Feb. 28 in Sanford, Fla., but wasn't arrested for weeks. Zimmerman has invoked the law that doesn't require a person to retreat in the face of a serious threat.

Health
9:38 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

System allows doctors to send immunization records electronically to the state

Doctors are already required to send immunization records to the State of Michigan. With the new system, the data will arrive in real time with no extra steps for the doctors or hospitals.

The system was launched by a non-profit called Michigan Health Connect. Executive Director Doug Dietzman says eventually the data could travel both ways – so doctors could avoid giving patients shots they don’t need. He outline tetanus as a common example. 

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Politics
11:59 am
Wed May 16, 2012

Will Gov. Snyder turn back his salary this year too?

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder turned back all but $1 of his pay last year, but he's not sure what he'll do this year.

Since there's no mechanism for the state to withhold his paychecks, the governor still receives his $159,300 salary.

He told reporters Wednesday that he's "going to do something different this year" but doesn't yet have a figure in mind.

Snyder quipped that he plans to "check with my wife" before settling on one.

The Republican governor announced in his 2011 budget address that he'd work for $1 during his first year in office as part of the "shared sacrifice" needed to balance the books.

State workers are scheduled to get a 1 percent raise in October, but also will start paying 20 percent of their health insurance premiums.

Politics
2:06 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Projections: Less money for Michigan in next fiscal year

Michigan's State Capitol in Lansing.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The House and Senate fiscal agencies have come out with their revenue estimates ahead of Wednesday's revenue estimating conference, and the news isn't all good.

Both say they expect the state general fund to take in less revenue in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1 than it will this year as companies pay less money because of the business tax cut that took effect early this year.

They expect the drop to be bigger than they forecast in January.

Next fiscal year's school aid revenues may be slightly higher than forecast.

The directors of the House and Senate fiscal agencies will meet Wednesday with state Treasurer Andy Dillon to set revenue estimates lawmakers will use as they finish work on the budget for the upcoming year.

Afghanistan
12:20 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Michigan service set for Army nurse who died on Skype chat

ADDISON, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan memorial service is Saturday for a U.S. Army nurse who died suddenly in Afghanistan during a computer video chat with his wife.

The service for 43-year-old Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Addison Middle School, about 70 miles southwest of Detroit. He grew up in Michigan.

Clark was assigned to a medical center in El Paso, Texas, and then deployed to Afghanistan in March. His wife, Susan Orellana-Clark, was in Texas chatting with him via Skype on April 30 when he collapsed. The death is under investigation.

A funeral is scheduled for Tuesday in western New York.

Clark's wife is from Spencerport, N.Y. He and his family lived there for six years before he joined the Army in 2006.

Politics
1:23 pm
Sun May 13, 2012

Union rally Monday for Rep. John Conyers

Union supporters of veteran Congressman John Conyers are holding a re-election rally Monday for the Detroit Democrat. The 82-year-old is seeking a 24th term in the House and faces several challengers in the Aug. 7 party primary.

The group Working Families for Southeast Michigan says its rally is set for 5-8 p.m. at the Michigan Conference-Teamsters hall in Detroit.

Others in the Democratic race in the 13th District include state Sens. Glenn Anderson of Westland and Bert Johnson of Highland Park, and state Rep. Shanelle Jackson of Detroit.

Conyers is the second-most senior member of the House, dean of the Congressional Black Caucus and the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

President Barack Obama endorsed Conyers in February.

Crime
11:54 am
Fri May 11, 2012

West Michigan man admits fraud in disability program

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - A Grand Rapids man has agreed to plead guilty to fraud after the government says he collected nearly $400,000 in disability payments despite working at a family business.

A document filed Friday in federal court say Donald Freybler collected the money for 16 years, although he may not be on the hook for the entire $400,000. His plea deal allows him to argue to a judge that some payments were legitimate.

The 53-year-old Freybler admits he worked at a family trophy business and put it in his wife's name and Social Security number to conceal income. He says he greeted customers, took orders and occasionally made trophies and plaques.

Economy
1:05 pm
Thu May 10, 2012

Hostess Brands says layoffs could be coming in Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Hostess Brands Inc. has notified state officials it may have to lay off about 380 Michigan workers as part of its plan to get out of bankruptcy. Possible cuts include 70 jobs in Detroit and 65 in Troy. Hostess filed for Chapter 11 protection in January.

Environment & Science
2:36 pm
Tue May 8, 2012

University of Michigan gets $1.3M from feds for nuclear energy research

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - The University of Michigan is getting $1.3 million in federal money to help train and educate the next generation of leaders in the nation's nuclear industry.

The U.S. Department of Energy on Tuesday announced the money in research grants, fellowships and scholarships. They're part of the department's Nuclear Energy University Program and Integrated University Program that will support nuclear energy research and development efforts.

Part of the money for the Ann Arbor school will go to a research project aimed at developing new and advanced reactor designs and technologies.

Funding is going to 46 colleges and universities nationwide.

Flint
2:16 pm
Sat May 5, 2012

What's in a name? What if that name is Flint?

(Courtesy of MINBCNEWS.com)

FLINT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A committee is studying whether Flint Township should change its name to drop the reference to Flint.

Some residents believe the community's reputation suffers when people don't make a distinction between the township and the city of Flint. The city is known for a high crime rate and chronically poor finances. A state-appointed emergency manager runs Flint.

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Politics
11:33 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Michigan legislature prayer group

Flickr user/jemasmith

The Roman Catholic church says a newly formed prayer caucus in the Michigan Legislature that specifically endorses Judeo-Christian tradition should open itself to officials of "any faith." About 30 lawmakers and Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Calley sang "God Bless America" and prayed at Wednesday's launch.

The caucus says in its founding statement that it's "a bipartisan body of believers of Scriptural Truth, adhering to established Judeo-Christian principles."

The statement has drawn criticism from the Council on American-Islamic Relations based on what the group's state director Dawud Walid says is its "exclusionary language."

 The Michigan Catholic Conference has weighed in as well, saying it hopes that "elected officials of any faith are made to feel welcome." Caucus co-founder Rep. Ken Kurtz says anyone may join.

Science/Medicine
2:59 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Cheboygan hospital sale not complete

CHEBOYGAN, Mich. (AP) - A spokesman for the recently closed Cheboygan Memorial Hospital says its sale to Flint-based McLaren Health Care Corp. is moving toward completion.

McLaren's efforts to buy the hospital fell through a month ago because of problems obtaining necessary federal regulatory approval. The hospital closed April 3, idling about 400 workers.

But hearings Monday in federal bankruptcy court cleared the way for the sale to proceed. Services such as an emergency room could reopen.

Spokesman Mike Grisdale said Wednesday that paperwork and legal documents have been prepared but the deal still isn't final.

The hospital announced in March it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after losing more than $7 million in 2011.

McLaren has rehired about 50 people to work at the hospital's clinics in Cheboygan, Pellston and Petoskey.

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