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AP-US-WOLVES-PROTECTIONS

Scientists urge restoration of federal gray wolf protections

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A group of scientists is urging the Biden administration to return gray wolves to the federal endangered species list. In a letter Thursday, 115 wildlife conservation experts say state governments have allowed too many wolves to be killed since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lifted protections across most of the Lower 48 states in January. The move was among Trump administration actions on the environment that Biden has ordered reviewed. Livestock farmers and ranchers say wolf numbers are too high.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-AID

Lawmakers OK COVID-19 spending bills; budget chief concerned

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan legislators have approved mid-year spending bills, including billions of federal coronavirus relief to boost pay for frontline government workers, incentivize unemployed people to return to work and upgrade infrastructure. Under a $3.3 billion plan sent to the Senate by the Republican-led House, some federal funding would go toward payroll costs and free up state dollars to pay the Flint water crisis settlement — instead of borrowing — and partially replenish an unemployment benefits fund. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration questioned the bill, saying federal guidance states COVID-19 funds cannot be used to pay down debt and finance legal settlements.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MOBILE VACCINATIONS

Mobile soup kitchens take food, vaccine to Detroit’s poorest

DETROIT (AP) — Salvation Army mobile soup kitchen trucks are rolling through some of Detroit’s poorest neighborhoods delivering food and COVID-19 vaccines. In three weeks, dozens of people have received vaccinations through the program designed to reach those who normally have little to no access to churches, community centers or other places where doses are being given. Mobile care teams consisting of nurses and a peer support specialist accompany the Bed & Bread trucks as they cruise Detroit, which lags far behind the state and nearby communities in the percentage of people vaccinated.

MICHIGAN BUDGET-POLICE

House GOP plan: $80M more for police, including to recruit

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers are proposing an $80 million funding increase for law enforcement, including $47 million to help recruit and retain officers at a time a top Republican says the profession has been “beaten down” by anti-police sentiment. The proposed spending will be added to a budget bill in the GOP-led House. Incentives include signing bonuses for new officers, tuition assistance to attend police academies and stipends during recruits’ training. Funding would incentivize the use of body cameras and community policing. Sheriffs cite attrition and recruitment challenges amid calls for police reform and a national debate over deadly force.

AP-US-HIGHER-EDUCATION-ALLIANCE

Colleges form alliance to support student-designed learning

A national alliance of six colleges and universities announced Thursday aims to address issues of retention, access and equity in higher education by teaching students to design solutions for what they find to be the most pressing problems. First piloted last summer at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, high school juniors and seniors tackled questions of how to navigate the transition to college and how to connect the school experience to the real world. Students who complete the program will be guaranteed admission to any of the partner schools.

RAP DUO-TAX FRAUD

IRS says Detroit-area singers were making a fraudulent rap

DETROIT (AP) — Two women who formed the Detroit-area rap duo Deuces Wild are accused of stealing millions of dollars through fraudulent tax returns. Sameerah Marrel and Noelle Brown were charged with many crimes in a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday. The Internal Revenue Service paid $5.5 million on $13.7 million in bogus claims from 2013-17. Marrel appeared in court and was released on bond. Her attorney said she wasn’t a risk to the community. Brown hasn’t been arrested. The government says luxury vehicles were registered to Marrel, including two Bentleys, a Porsche and a Mercedes-Benz.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-ART FAIR

Ann Arbor art fair scratched again because of COVID-19 rules

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A popular summer art fair in southeastern Michigan has been canceled again. Organizers of the Ann Arbor Art Fair said uncertainty over the rules on outdoor gatherings is forcing them to scratch the July event for a second consecutive year due to COVID-19. The fair, which is actually three fairs in one, draws thousands of people to the streets of Ann Arbor. Mo Riley believes outdoor capacity limits probably will be lifted by the state by July but there are no guarantees. She says organizers have run out of time. They want to be fair to the many artists.   

AP-US-MICHIGAN-PIPELINE

Company defies Michigan governor’s order to close pipeline

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The company that operates an Upper Midwestern oil pipeline is rejecting Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s demand to close it. Whitmer had set a Wednesday deadline to shut down Line 5, contending it risks a major oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac linking Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. But Enbridge says only the federal government has authority to order a shutdown. The Canadian company and its supporters say doing so would risk the same fuel disruptions experienced on the East Coast following a cyberattack against a pipeline there. Opponents say the two situations are different and accuse Enbridge of flouting the law.

AP-US-REL-EID-AL-FITR-HOLIDAY

For Muslims in America, Eid al-Fitr comes as pandemic eases

As they celebrate the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims are once again seeking ways to balance social and religious rituals with coronavirus concerns. For many Muslims in the United States, this year’s Eid al-Fitr is promising to be closer to normal than last year’s as America sees ongoing efforts to get vaccine shots into more arms and chart a path back to normalcy from the coronavirus pandemic. Says one imam: “It’s going to be somewhat bittersweet. But again, we’re thankful for the ability to come together in some capacity.”

TEACHER SUSPENDED-RIGHT TO LIFE

South Bend school suspends teacher over Right to Life talk

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A northern Indiana school district has suspended a teacher who invited a representative of an anti-abortion group to speak during a health class. The South Bend Community School Corp. placed the Clay High School teacher on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. The South Bend Tribune reports that district leaders said the presentation Tuesday by a representative of Right to Life Michiana violated policies and procedures because the teacher did not seek the approval of the school principal and did not notify parents in advance. Jackie Appleman of Right to Life Michiana said her organization didn’t promote any religious or moral views.