Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. EST
US agrees to release Haitian held for 2 years in asylum case
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The U.S. government has agreed to release a Haitian man who was granted asylum but has been in custody for two years because of appeals.
Judge Judith Levy disclosed the deal Thursday, a day after holding a hearing in federal court in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ansly Damus is a teacher from Haiti who entered the U.S. in 2016 and sought asylum, saying his life was at risk because he criticized a political leader.
The American Civil Liberties Union says Damus has been locked up in a windowless room at a jail in Chardon, Ohio.
Levy doesn’t have a role in the asylum dispute. But the ACLU sued to try to win his release while the case is pending.
Damus will wear an ankle monitor and live with a couple in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
CONGRESSIONAL TEMP JOB
Detroit Council President Brenda Jones sworn into Congress
DETROIT (AP) — Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones has been sworn in to fill Michigan’s 13th District House seat, but will only serve in Congress for a few weeks.
Jones was given the oath of office Thursday after leaders in the House reached a deal on seating her while she keeps her job in Detroit. Jones will not take a city salary or conduct Detroit city business while a member of Congress.
Jones won a special election in August to finish former Rep. John Conyers’ term, but she didn’t win the Democratic primary to run for a full two-year term. Fellow Democrat Rashida Tlaib was elected to the two-year term and will start in January.
Conyers stepped down late last year after sexual harassment claims by former staffers.
George Perles, citing health, resigns as MSU trustee
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — George Perles has resigned as a member of Michigan State University’s governing board after nearly 12 years, citing his age and health.
Perles was a former Michigan State football coach and athletic director before winning election as a trustee in 2006. A Democrat, he was re-elected to an eight-year term in 2014.
The 84-year-old Perles has Parkinson’s disease, and he says the consequences “continue to grow.” In a statement dated Wednesday, he says he and wife Sally “need to make our life smaller as we age and consider our quality of life.”
Brian Breslin, chairman of the Michigan State board, suggested Gov. Rick Snyder would name a replacement and not leave it to the next governor, Gretchen Whitmer.
In September, a woman alleged that Perles covered up a rape allegation against sports doctor Larry Nassar when Perles was athletic director in 1992. Pat Perles called it a “fabrication” and insisted his father had never met the woman.
University of Michigan to livestream Auschwitz music concert
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The University of Michigan plans to livestream the performance of a musical arrangement not heard in concert since prisoners performed it at Auschwitz during World War II.
University officials said numerous livestream requests came from around the world after The Associated Press published a story Monday about the discovery of the manuscript for “The Most Beautiful Time of Life.”
The piece was arranged by three prisoners and discovered by music theory professor Patricia Hall at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum in Poland. It was a popular song in the early 1940s under its original German title.
The livestream is planned for 8 p.m. Friday. The arrangement will be performed at the school in Ann Arbor by the Contemporary Directions Ensemble, which has also recorded the piece.
Hall plans to speak during the concert, which will be recorded.
Bills to ease upgrade to 5G wireless systems go to governor
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Bills designed to ease upgrades to 5G wireless systems in Michigan are heading toward Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk.
The Senate took a final procedural step Thursday, a day after the legislation was passed by the House.
The bills would create streamlined regulations, including fees, to install a dense network of smaller, lower-powered cells on telephone poles and other infrastructure in public rights of way. They are backed by wireless providers but opposed by municipalities who say they interfere with their right to recover costs. Other opponents worry about the health effects of the technology.
5G systems are the fifth generation of wireless technology.
AT&T Michigan President David Lewis says installing small cells will enable faster wireless internet speeds and provide more capacity for things like streaming music or videos.
ABORTION DRUGS-TELEMEDICINE BAN
Michigan Senate OKs extension of abortion telemedicine ban
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Republican-led Michigan Senate has voted to make permanent a ban against doctors prescribing abortion drugs via an internet camera.
The provision in a 2012 abortion law is set to expire after this year. The GOP-backed bill, approved 25-12 along mostly party lines Thursday, would extend the prohibition permanently.
The law requires that physicians do a physical exam of a patient wanting a medical abortion, in which drugs are used to end a pregnancy. They also must be present when the drugs are dispensed.
Before voting, senators amended the legislation to also ban doctors from using telemedicine to diagnose that a woman is pregnant. Democrats say the bill — now headed to the House — would especially hurt rural women’s ability to access health care.
Senate Bill 1198: http://bit.ly/2FLkUkr
Bill shielding donors to nonprofits OK’d by Michigan Senate
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A bill moving forward in Michigan’s Legislature is designed to keep secret the identity of donors who give money to nonprofit groups, including organizations involved in elections.
Such groups running issue ads already do not have to disclose their donors. But the legislation , approved 25-12 by the Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday, would prohibit public agencies from trying to force disclosure or from releasing personal information without permission.
The proposed law would not preclude a lawful warrant being used to obtain information.
Democratic Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel has criticized the bill, saying it would hurt her ability to investigate fraudulent charities and calling it a “ham-handed effort to shield dark money.”
Senate Bill 1176: http://bit.ly/2BHJnTQ
Ex-Monroe judge gets year in prison in violent sex case
MONROE, Mich. (AP) — A former judge accused of paying women for violent sex has been sentenced to at least one year in prison, far less than what prosecutors had sought.
Jarold Calkins was a District Court judge in Monroe County at the time. He was initially charged with prostitution crimes, but the charges were replaced by misconduct in office charges . The four young women wanted to remain anonymous.
The attorney general’s office asked for a minimum of three to four years in prison Thursday. But Judge Archie Brown settled on a year, which means Calkins will be eligible for parole after 12 months.
Calkins told the judge he was in a “dark place” when the events occurred. Statements written by victims were read in court. One woman said she felt like Calkins’ “personal sex slave.” Evidence shows he choked them and beat them with whips.
TREE REMOVAL REGULATIONS
Michigan Senate OKs limits on local tree-cutting regulations
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Senate has voted to restrict municipalities’ ability to regulate the removal or trimming of trees on private property.
Under a Republican-sponsored bill approved 23-15 on Thursday, local governments could still have rules protecting “heritage” trees — trees that are at least a certain height and are not diseased, dying or otherwise a safety threat.
The legislation was passed largely along party lines in the GOP-led chamber and will be considered next by the Republican-controlled House. It would apply for vegetation on agricultural, business, commercial or industrial property.
Municipalities could not prohibit or require pre-approval for the trimming, felling or removal of vegetation, except for heritage trees. They also could not impose fees or fines or require landowners to plant replacement trees.
Senate Bills 1188-94: http://bit.ly/2RlBPeN