Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. EDT

AIR POLLUTION INVESTIGATION

State: No unusual cancer stats near medical manufacturer

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan health department says it didn’t find a significant increase in cancer among people near a medical-device manufacturer in Grand Rapids.

The only exception over a 15-year period was a blood cancer, but the department says it was based on 25 cases and wasn’t significantly higher than the overall state rate.

Viant Medical has been under scrutiny over its use of ethylene oxide, a colorless gas linked to cancer. In March, the company said it would stop sterilizing equipment at the facility by the end of the year. State regulators have issued at least four pollution violations over the past two years.

The health department says there are a few caveats to its work. It’s possible that people have left the area. The department also says the state cancer registry doesn’t have information to make a link to environmental contamination.

ELECTION 2020-BIDEN

Biden says he’s not relying on Obama as ‘crutch’ in 2020 bid

DETROIT (AP) — Joe Biden rarely lets a public event pass without reminding voters of his work alongside President Barack Obama, but the former vice president insists he’s not overly relying on that relationship to fuel his 2020 White House bid.

At a forum Wednesday in Detroit sponsored by the NAACP, Biden said, “It’s not a crutch.” He says, “You can ask President Obama. I don’t need any crutch.”

The comment reflects the challenge facing Biden as he tries to protect his fragile status as the early Democratic front-runner.

His frequent invocation of the Obama years could appeal to Democrats, particularly African Americans, who hold the former president in high regard.

But presidential candidates are rarely successful if they’re viewed as simply the next chapter of a prior administration.

ELECTION 2020-MICHIGAN-HOUSE

Michigan Rep. Mitchell won’t seek 3rd term in Congress

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Second-term Republican Rep. Paul Mitchell of Michigan won’t seek re-election to Congress in 2020.

Mitchell announced his plan in tearful remarks on the House floor Wednesday. Politico first reported the decision.

He says it’s time to focus on his family, which includes a 9-year-old son. He also expressed frustration, saying “rhetoric overwhelms policy, and politics consumes much of the oxygen” in Washington.

Mitchell last week criticized President Donald Trump for saying four Democratic congresswoman of color should “go back” to the countries they came from.

The 62-year-old Mitchell was first elected in 2016 to the 10th Congressional District, which includes Michigan’s rural Thumb region and portions of suburban Detroit’s Macomb County. The district’s voters heavily backed Trump in 2016, and Republicans should have no problem holding the seat in 2020.

GAS STATION SHOOTING

Detroit police: Clerk shoots at chip thief, hits bystander

DETROIT (AP) — Police say a Detroit gas station clerk who was apparently trying to shoot a potato chip thief ended up wounding a bystander instead.

Police say a young man was shot in the chest Tuesday night at the gas station on the city’s west side. At the same time, a different person was trying to leave without paying for several bags of potato chips. Police say the clerk fired through the gas station’s glass door at the alleged thief.

The wounded man was taken to a hospital in temporary serious condition. Police say they detained both the suspected thief and the clerk.

The case is expected to be reviewed by prosecutors for possible charges.

CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST-DETROIT

Statue of slain civil right activist dedicated in Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — A statue of a civil rights activist who was slain in Alabama during a 1965 voting rights march has been dedicated at the Detroit park that bears her name.

The statue unveiled Tuesday shows Viola Liuzzo walking barefoot — with shoes in one hand — and a Ku Klux Klan hood on the ground behind her. Sculptor Austen Brantley, who memorialized the white activist from Detroit, says Liuzzo’s life “tells us … to take action in our community and our nation.”

Liuzzo, a 39-year-old mother of five, drove from Detroit to Alabama to join 25,000 others in support of a march led by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. She was driving fellow activists between Montgomery and Selma when she was fatally shot by Ku Klux Klan members in another car.

WASTING DISEASE-THE LATEST

The Latest: DNR chief tells states to work together on CWD

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Preston Cole is telling wildlife officials attending a multi-state conference on chronic wasting disease that they need to talk to each other and come up with a regional approach to slowing the disease.

Representatives from wildlife agencies from an array of Midwestern states are gathering Wednesday and Thursday in Madison to discuss CWD. Cole began the conference by telling attendees that they’ve been trying to solve the disease on their own for too long.

He said states need to stop duplicating efforts and show the public that “we are on it.”

The conference agenda calls for discussions on the state of CWD research, where to focus research and CWD best management practices.

SEVERE WEATHER-MICHIGAN

Power restoration work wrapping up after storms hit Michigan

DETROIT (AP) — Crews are wrapping restoring electricity after severe storms over two days knocked out power to more than 800,000 Michigan homes and businesses.

Detroit-based DTE Energy says the “vast majority” of affected customers Wednesday now have power after a weekend of storms that came amid dangerously hot weather that eventually eased. DTE says most remaining outages involve severe damage and some are in areas that aren’t easily accessible.

DTE expects power to be fully restored by the end of Wednesday. Roughly 600,000 customers were in the dark at the peak. Customers who’ve been without power for 120 hours or longer may be eligible for a $25 reliability credit .

Jackson, Michigan-based Consumers Energy’s outage map showed only a few outages. The number affected was as high as 220,000 due to the storms.

BENTON HARBOR SCHOOLS

Benton Harbor school board sending new plan to governor

(Information from: The Herald-Palladium, http://www.heraldpalladium.com)

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A southwestern Michigan school board has approved a new plan to improve the struggling district that will go to the governor’s office for review.

The Benton Harbor Area Schools board voted Tuesday night on the plan, which would last at least four years.

The Herald-Palladium reports the plan would pay down the district’s at least $16 million in debt with help from the state and raise student achievement. School officials intend to use the plan as a starting point during mediation with state officials in the coming weeks.

The school board previously rejected plans by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her office, including one that would have increased teacher compensation. Whitmer drew opposition when she sent the Benton Harbor school board a proposal that could close its high school .

___

ELECTION 2020-BLACK VOTERS

Black voters say they won’t forget Trump’s racist tweets

DETROIT (AP) — Dozens of black leaders, activists and voters in pivotal swing states in next year’s presidential election say they won’t forget President Donald Trump’s racist tweets about four congresswomen of color

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s annual NAACP convention in Detroit, they say they are as motivated by Trump’s attacks on the congresswomen as some of Trump’s supporters, but in opposition to his reelection.

Black turnout in 2016 was down about 7 percentage points compared to 2012, the last election with Barack Obama on the ticket.

A Wisconsin state representative from Milwaukee who is black, David Bowen, says incidents like Trump’s racist tweets will remind people that four more years with Trump as president won’t benefit the country or black people.

Democratic candidates for president will be speaking at the NAACP gathering.

WOLF PROTECTION-MICHIGAN

Michigan attorney general opposes dropping wolf protection

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is opposing a federal plan to drop gray wolves from the endangered species list.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the wolf has recovered in the Lower 48 states and no longer needs federal protection. More than 5,000 live in the contiguous U.S., including roughly 660 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The service wants to turn management of the species over to the states.

In comments submitted recently, Nessel says the Fish and Wildlife Service has tried repeatedly to remove wolves from the protected list without providing adequate justification.

She says eliminating the federal shield would lead to renewed hunting and could imperil the species.

Wolves in the Lower 48 were hunted, trapped and poisoned to near-extinction before legal protection was granted in the 1970s.