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Farmers buoyed but cautious as China resumes buying soybeans

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The resumption of soybean sales to China is encouraging to American farmers who’ve seen the value of their crop plummet amid a trade war with the world’s second-largest economy.

But producers see it only as a small step toward normalcy as they continue monitoring the unsettled trade relations between the countries and call for more federal aid.

Private exporters have reported sales of 1.43 million metric tons of soybeans to China less than two weeks after the Trump administration reached a three-month truce in the trade war.

The American Soybean Association says it’s positive news but didn’t significantly boost prices and farmers need more help.

Both the association and the National Farmers Union are pushing for more federal aid through a $12 billion federal program created to compensate producers for trade-related losses.


The Latest: Dems rip Snyder for gutting wage, benefit laws

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Democrats are blasting Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder for signing Republican-backed laws to significantly scale back citizen-initiated measures to raise the minimum wage and require paid sick leave for workers.

Rep. Christine Greig on Friday accused the governor of choosing to “rob” people of strong paychecks and good benefits. She calls his move “shameful.”

The outgoing Republican governor says signing the bills was the “right policy” for Michigan residents as a whole. He contends a majority of workers will have paid medical leave and Michigan’s minimum wage will stay in the top third of states nationally.

The new laws are sure to be challenged legally, because lawmakers have never before adopted citizen initiatives and then altered them in the same legislative session.


GM says it has 2,700 jobs for workers slated to be laid off

DETROIT (AP) — The General Motors’ massive 14,000-person layoff announced last month might not be as bad as originally projected.

The company said Friday that 2,700 out of the 3,300 factory jobs slated for elimination will now be saved by adding jobs at other U.S. factories. Blue-collar workers in many cities will still lose jobs when GM shutters four U.S. factories next year. But most could find employment at other GM plants. Some would have to relocate.

GM still plans to lay off about 8,000 white-collar workers and another 2,600 factory workers in Canada.

In November, GM announced plans to end production at the U.S. factories and one in Ontario as part of a restructuring.

Legislators and President Donald Trump have hammered GM over the layoffs. GM says the factory hires were in the works before its announcement.


Priest criticized teenager who killed himself at funeral

TEMPERANCE, Mich. (AP) — The Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit says it regrets that a priest officiating at a teen’s funeral questioned whether he would get to heaven after killing himself.

Maison Hullibarger’s father tells the Detroit Free Press that he asked the priest to stop talking during the Dec. 8 funeral Mass. But Jeff Hullibarger says the Rev. Don LaCuesta continued giving a critical sermon at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Temperance.

Hullibarger says some mourners left the church crying.

The archdiocese released a statement Thursday saying it’s sorry that an “unbearable situation was made even more difficult.” The archdiocese says LaCuesta will not preach at funerals “for the foreseeable future.”

Eighteen-year-old Maison died on Dec. 4. He was an athlete and honors student.


Head of Michigan veterans agency will become appellate judge

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has appointed a former Kent County judge to fill a vacancy on the Michigan appeals court.

James Redford now serves as director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. He joined the Snyder administration in 2015 as chief legal counsel after losing a 2014 race for the state Supreme Court.

Redford was a Kent County judge for more than a decade. He’s also a former federal prosecutor. Snyder says Redford has had a “distinguished career as a public servant.”

The Snyder administration ends on Jan. 1 when Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, becomes governor.


Wisconsin man charged in 4-year-old son’s fatal shooting

ROSEVILLE, Mich. (AP) — Authorities have charged a Wisconsin man with second-degree child abuse in the shooting death of his 4-year-old son in suburban Detroit.

Police say 27-year-old Gary Chang of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, left a semiautomatic handgun unsecured in a house in Roseville and one of the boy’s siblings picked it up and shot the child Friday morning in the home’s basement.

The boy was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Roseville Deputy Police Chief Donald Glandon says five or six children were in the house at the time of the shooting and investigators were still working to determine who pulled the trigger.

Chang was arraigned Friday on one count of second-degree child abuse. His bond was set at $150,000, with his next court hearing set for Dec. 26.


Nassar survivors ask Michigan State to open counseling fund

(Information from: Lansing State Journal,

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Some of the women abused by imprisoned former sports doctor Larry Nassar are asking Michigan State University not to redirect $8.5 million from a victims’ counseling fund to a larger money settlement in the case.

Interim MSU President John Engler wants the money redirected to a $500 million settlement with Nassar victims. But victims and their supporters pushed back Friday during a Board of Trustees meeting, with one asking: “Is this really how you’re going to help everybody heal and get closure?”

The Lansing State Journal reports the board didn’t make a decision Friday.

The school recently announced the completion of its initial $425 million settlement payment. Engler says the larger settlement would cover any counseling costs previously covered by the former Healing Assistance Fund.

Nassar worked for Michigan State and USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. He’s imprisoned for molesting athletes and possessing child pornography.



School district must release school bus video in heat suit

(Information from: The Grand Rapids,

BLACKMAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A southern Michigan school district has been ordered to release school bus surveillance footage in a lawsuit alleging that a driver forced students to sit in extreme heat as punishment for behaving badly.

Jackson County Circuit Judge John McBain ordered Northwest Community Schools this week to release the video, but said the plaintiff must pay the district to redact the video to remove students from view. reports the suit says a bus driver drove around unnecessarily for nearly an hour in August, forced students to close bus windows and possibly turned on the heat.

District officials argued the video couldn’t be released without parental permission, but the judge found that the video can be released while maintaining student privacy.

Superintendent Geoff Bontrager says the district was weighing an appeal.