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

GENITAL MUTILATION

US drops appeal dismissing female genital mutilation charges

DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department won’t appeal a decision by a Detroit federal judge who threw out female genital mutilation charges against members of a Muslim sect.

Solicitor General Noel Francisco calls it an “especially heinous practice.” But in a letter to Congress, he says the law needs to be changed to be constitutional under U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

Judge Bernard Friedman in November said the law was unconstitutional because Congress didn’t have power to regulate genital mutilation. The government pulled its appeal on March 30.

Dr. Jumana Nagarwala was accused of performing genital mutilation on nine girls at a suburban Detroit clinic. She denies any crime and says she performed a religious custom. The girls were from Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.

There still are other charges in the case.

MEASLES-MICHIGAN

Michigan trims count of measles cases; vaccines still urged

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Health officials are reducing their count of Michigan’s measles cases after additional testing determined two of the reported cases weren’t the highly contagious disease .

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that the number for 2019 is 39, down from 41 that it reported earlier this week . The two cases included a child in Washtenaw County that was reported as the first case in that county as well as a child in Oakland County.

The department says they’d both been recently vaccinated and had symptoms and initial test results that classified them as measles cases.

Health officials still are urging people to get vaccinated if they haven’t received the vaccine in the past. The number of measles cases in Michigan is the highest since 65 in 1991.

BUSINESS FIRE-MICHIGAN

Crews monitor site of fire, explosions at welding company

(Information from: The Ann Arbor News, http://www.mlive.com/ann-arbor)

PITTSFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Emergency crews are keeping an eye on the site of a large fire at a southeastern Michigan welding supply company that caused explosions and some evacuations.

Pittsfield Township Public Safety Director Matthew Harshberger tells The Ann Arbor News crews remained at the scene Thursday night and into Friday as one fuel tank continued to burn. Two employees were treated for smoke inhalation following the fire about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southwest of Detroit.

Harshberger says they planned to let the tank burn out.

Structures surrounding Ann Arbor Welding Supply in Pittsfield Township were evacuated Thursday afternoon for about five hours. Harshberger said Thursday the fire began when a worker filling a propane tank turned away for a moment and the tank exploded. That led to other tanks exploding.

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CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST-DETROIT

Detroit sculptor to memorialize slain civil right activist

(Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com)

DETROIT (AP) — A 23-year-old Detroit sculptor is shaping the memory of a civil rights activist slain in Alabama during a 1965 voting rights march.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Austen Brantley is preparing to unveil a statue of Viola Liuzzo this July. He was commissioned by the Viola Liuzzo Park Association to memorialize the white activist, who drove from Detroit to Alabama to join a march led by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Liuzzo was driving fellow activists between Montgomery and Selma when she was fatally shot by Ku Klux Klan members in another car.

Brantley says he found Liuzzo’s moral compass captivating, weighing leaving her children against knowing the brutality marchers were suffering in the south.

The statue will stand in the northwest Detroit park dedicated to Liuzzo.

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SPRING WEATHER-MICHIGAN

Strong winds cause flooding in Michigan along Lake Erie

LASALLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Strong winds blowing off Lake Erie are blamed for flooding in parts of southeastern Michigan.

Thursday’s winds pushed water into residential areas near the lake in Monroe County and forecasters warn that more high winds over the weekend could cause additional problems.

Monroe County authorities had a dozen pumps running Thursday, but couldn’t keep up. The county’s Drain Commissioner David P. Thompson tells WJBK-TV it “doesn’t matter how many pumps you have if Mother Nature’s going to flood you, she’s going to do it.”

Flooding came as other parts of Michigan were hit with wintry weather as a storm system unleashed a blizzard in the Upper Midwest . Reports of more than 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) of snow came in to the National Weather Service from Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula.

NEW CORVETTE

GM to reveal next generate Corvette in July

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — It’s enough to rev up Corvette fans — a new rendition of the classic sports car is coming.

And General Motors has a big change in the next generation Corvette being revealed July 18.

GM confirms the engine in the new model is being moved from under the hood to being tucked between the passenger compartment and the rear wheels — a “mid-engine” design.

Chevrolet says the new generation Corvette will be “the sum of each generation before it,” but will “stand alone as the new standard of performance.”

Previewing the reveal, General Motors released a photo showing GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra standing next to a camouflaged, next generation Corvette on Thursday in New York.

The sports car is manufactured at a GM plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

MICHIGAN PRISON-RASH

Michigan faces lawsuit over scabies at prison for women

(Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com)

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — A federal lawsuit says inmates at Michigan’s only prison for women suffered severe itching and permanent scarring because officials took more than a year to diagnose and properly treat a scabies outbreak .

The Detroit Free Press reports the lawsuit on behalf of prisoner Rebecca Smith was filed Thursday. Smith’s lawyer Daniel Randazzo says he has letters from more than 200 inmates at Huron Valley prison near Ypsilanti who suffered during the outbreak of parasitic mites that burrow under the skin and lay eggs.

The Michigan Department of Corrections didn’t comment on the pending lawsuit, but has said over the past year it was working to deal with the rashes and determine the source.

Smith says it’s difficult to estimate possible damages that could come from the case.

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ELECTION 2020-BERNIE SANDERS-MIDWEST

Sanders starts campaign swing with Wisconsin rally

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is heading back to the friendly turf of Wisconsin for a rally that kicks off a swing through states that are key to the Democratic “blue wall” strategy for 2020.

Sanders’ event Friday in Madison will be followed by weekend stops in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Trump also knows the Midwest is vital to his re-election bid. He will campaign Monday in Minnesota, a state he lost by less than 2 percentage points in 2015.

However, Democrats feel like the momentum is on their side in the Midwest.

Sanders supporter and Milwaukee labor organizer Peter Rickman says the senator from Vermont is the best chance Democrats have to defeat Trump.

FLINT AIRPORT STABBING

Attorneys seek 25 years for man in Michigan airport stabbing

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Lawyers for a Montreal man convicted of stabbing a police officer at an airport in Flint, Michigan, have asked the judge to sentence him to 25 years in prison.

Amor Ftouhi (ah-MOOR’ fuh-TOO’-ee) was convicted in November on several charges in the June 2017 attack, including committing an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries. Witnesses said Ftouhi, who is Muslim, yelled “Allahu akbar” — or “God is great” — while attacking Lt. Jeff Neville, who survived being stabbed in the neck.

Ftouhi could get a life sentence. But in a memorandum filed Thursday in federal court in Flint, his attorneys asked that he be sentenced to 25 years in solitary confinement.

They wrote Ftouhi was depressed about debt and that he couldn’t support his wife and children after moving them from Tunisia to Montreal. They have said he expected to be killed by other officers.

The attorneys declined to comment about the filing when reached by phone.