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VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Michigan lifts indoor mask requirement for vaccinated people

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan is lifting a mask requirement for fully vaccinated people and says the unvaccinated don’t need to wear one outdoors. A broad indoor face covering mandate will expire in July. The announcement Friday from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer comes a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people. Michigan’s order takes effect at 9 a.m. Saturday. People outside won’t have to wear a mask regardless of whether they have gotten a shot. While inside, the fully vaccinated can go without a face covering. Those who aren’t vaccinated must still wear a mask indoors.

FATAL FIRE-MICHIGAN

Misconduct could overturn conviction in fire that killed 5

DETROIT (AP) — A new prosecutor in suburban Detroit is raising questions about the murder conviction of a man who was accused of setting a fire that killed five children in 2000. Karen McDonald says she’s “gravely concerned” about tactics used by the Oakland County prosecutor’s office. McDonald said Friday that Juwan Deering’s attorney wasn’t told that three informants got substantial benefits from helping authorities at the 2006 trial. The Innocence Clinic at University of Michigan law school had been seeking a new trial for Deering, arguing that the fire analysis was based on “junk science.” McDonald says problems with the informants emerged during her review of the case.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-GOVERNOR TRAVEL

Aide: Fund created after Whitmer’s election paid for trip

DETROIT (AP) — A top aide to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says a private round trip to Florida to see her ailing father was paid from a fund that’s used for travel not covered by tax dollars. The cost was $27,521, with Whitmer personally paying $855. A lack of publicly disclosed details have dogged Whitmer since the March trip was revealed in April. In a memo to senior staff, Chief of Staff JoAnne Huls says Whitmer’s office “could have done a better job of answering questions about this trip with more clarity.” Huls says she’s taking responsibility. The governor left Michigan on March 12 and returned on March 15.       

SCHOOL RECORDS

Newspaper wins again in dispute over school records

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The Traverse City school district must release a document that carried complaints about a superintendent who lasted less than three months and was paid $180,000. The Michigan appeals court affirmed a decision by a local judge in a dispute between the district and the Traverse City Record-Eagle. The district declined to release a document to the newspaper in 2019, saying it was exempt from a public records request because it was attached to minutes from a closed session of the school board. Nate Payne, executive editor of the Record-Eagle, says the court decision is a victory for transparency in government.

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.

ILLINOIS STATE PRESIDENT

Illinois State trustees select Kinzy as school’s president

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — The Board of Trustees of Illinois State University has chosen Terri Goss Kinzy to be the school’s 20th president, effective July 1. The announcement was made Friday. Kinzy will be the first female president of Illinois State. She’s currently vice president for research and innovation at Western Michigan University. She previously was vice president of research and a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Rutgers University. Kinzy will succeed Larry Dietz, who is retiring June 30 after serving as Illinois State’s president since March 2014.

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-REL-ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS-INTERFAITH-ANGUISH

Interfaith efforts strained by Israeli-Palestinian violence

The escalation of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dismaying American Muslims and Jews who’ve been working to build bridges between their communities. They are now struggling to quell fear and anger in their own circles. Among the groups affected is the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, which seeks to build trust and friendships between Muslim and Jewish women. A Muslim attorney who co-founded the group says she’s worried its work will be derailed. Another partnership, NewGround, is organizing a Zoom to address tensions. Its members include Palestinians, Muslims with origins elsewhere and Jews holding a wide range of political views.