Woman killed with dumbell

TROY, Mich. (AP) — A suburban Detroit man has been charged in the fatal bludgeoning of his 55-year-old aunt with a 15-pound (6.8 kilogram) dumbbell.
Nayir Masrur was arraigned Wednesday on first-degree murder.
Rubab Huq was found slain Monday in the basement of a home in Troy, north of Detroit.
A police officer responding to a 911 call from the home saw a man jump from a second-story window of another house and flee through the neighborhood.
The 20-year-old Masrur was found hiding in a nearby marshy area and arrested. He was ordered held Wednesday without bond and faces a Nov. 27 probable cause conference. WDIV-TV reports that Masrur attends the University of Michigan.

Cleveland Cavaliers owner selling Detroit casino in $1B deal

DETROIT (AP) — Businessman and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has reached a $1 billion agreement to sell the Greektown Casino-Hotel in downtown Detroit, one of the city’s three casinos, companies involved in the deal announced Wednesday.
The move marks the latest in billions of dollars in investments planned or underway by Gilbert and his companies in Detroit, where he has a major real estate presence.
Other projects include a planned skyscraper and technology startups.
Gilbert’s Detroit-based JACK Entertainment said it planned to sell the casino to Pennsylvania-based Penn National Gaming and New York-based VICI Properties. The deal requires state and federal regulatory approval. JACK Entertainment said it’s also “continuing a strategic assessment for its remaining gaming properties” in other states.
Gilbert bought Greektown Casino-Hotel more than five years ago after it was reorganized in bankruptcy. Under the sale agreement, Penn National will acquire the operating assets of Greektown for about $300 million and VICI Properties will acquire the land and real estate assets for about $700 million.
“We invested hundreds of millions of dollars in it and put great management and culture in place,” Matt Cullen, CEO of Jack Entertainment, told The Associated Press.
He said the proceeds from the sale could boost several developments. Those include a skyscraper that would be the city’s tallest, another high-rise and mixed-use development, and redeveloping the site of the failed Wayne County Jail.
All told, the projects represent about $3 billion in investment.
Cullen said the proceeds could also help develop a new technology platform within Quicken Loans Inc., of which Gilbert is founder and chairman, or at StockX, the venture Gilbert co-founded billing itself as the online “stock market of things,” such as in-demand sneakers.
Alexis Wiley, chief of staff for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, said in a statement that city officials will review details of the agreement as they are made available, but that they are pleased that existing contracts with union workers will be honored under the new ownership.
The sale is expected to be finalized in mid-to-late 2019. During the sale process, plans call for the casino and hotel to remain open. JACK Entertainment said Greektown employees are expected to get compensation and benefit packages at least at current levels.

Senate OKs Coast Guard bill with ballast water compromise

AP Environmental Writer
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — The U.S. Senate approved a compromise policy Wednesday on dumping ship ballast water in coastal ports and the Great Lakes, a practice blamed for spreading invasive species that damage the environment and the economy.
The plan, part of a $10.6 billion Coast Guard budget authorization bill, includes provisions sought by environmentalists as well as the cargo shipping industry. They have battled for years over how to regulate disposal of water stored in tanks that is essential for steadying vessels in rough seas but has brought unwanted mussels, fish and even viruses to U.S. waters.
Under the bill, approved 94-6 and sent to the House for consideration, the Environmental Protection Agency would set national rules for ballast and other water discharges while the Coast Guard would enforce them. An earlier version backed by industry would have put the Coast Guard in charge of regulation and exempted ballast from the Clean Water Act, which environmentalists feared would result in weaker requirements for treating the water before it’s released.
But in a victory for shippers, states would be prohibited from imposing tougher treatment rules than EPA’s. Presently, 26 states have rules in addition to those on federal level, creating what the industry describes as a confusing regulatory patchwork. Environmentalists contend states should be able to exceed federal standards to safeguard their waterways.
The bill creates an exception for the Great Lakes, where damages and control costs from quagga mussels and other exotic organisms reach $200 million annually. Regional requirements could be imposed there if enough of the eight states that border the lakes want them.
Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, co-chairs of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, said EPA policy required under the bill “will help prevent pollution and ensure that that ballast water does not transport invasive species from one body of water to another along a vessel’s shipping route, while providing greater regulatory certainty for the shipping industry.”
Debate will persist even if the measure is enacted. Federal policy currently limits numbers of live organisms in ballast water before it’s discharged, based on international standards that environmentalists contend are too weak. A federal court has ordered EPA to strengthen the standards, noting the availability of treatment tools such as chlorine, ultraviolet light and filtration. Shippers contend available technology can’t hit the cleanliness targets environmentalists want.
EPA will grapple with such issues as it develops national rules.
Still, both sides praised the bill. The Lake Carriers’ Association, representing Great Lakes cargo shippers, said it strikes a “good balance,” while an environmentalist coalition said it “upholds many core protections to prevent future invasions.”
The bill authorizes $10.6 billion for the Coast Guard in fiscal year 2019, a roughly 16 percent increase from 2017 that would help modernize its aging fleet of cutters and aircraft. The Coast Guard is the primary federal authority for maritime safety and security on the U.S. coast and in ports and inland waterways.
“Passing it will ensure the Coast Guard has the tools it needs to continue to carry out its many important missions,” said Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat.
The measure also contains provisions to help the agency crack down on drug smuggling and enforce borders through use of informants and greater cooperation with other agencies. It also boost efforts to place and maintain navigational aids and enter less expensive contracts for acquiring the largest and most technologically advanced cutters.
Other provisions would create a Coast Guard center to develop responses to oil spills in the Great Lakes and other freshwater environments and authorize funding to design and build a National Coast Guard Museum in New London, Connecticut.

Insanity defense may be sought

PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) — A lawyer may pursue an insanity defense for a man charged in the fatal shooting of an off-duty Port Huron police officer.
The Times Herald of Port Huron reports Tuesday that court documents show attorney Bill Colovos has filed a motion to have Joshua Bauman undergo examination for criminal responsibility at the Center for Forensic Psychiatry. A hearing is scheduled Monday.
Lt. Joel Wood was slain in August while visiting a woman in Clyde Township. Bauman’s estranged wife and a neighbor were wounded. Wood was 45 and had been a Port Huron officer for more than two decades.
Bauman was captured in suburban Detroit. He is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and other crimes.

Michigan man who posed as medic had history of lying

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) — Court records show that a Michigan man who will soon finish a county jail sentence for impersonating an ambulance medic had a history of lying.
Tony Fortuna, 42, is nearing the end of his nine months in Kent County Jail, The Detroit News reported . He was sentenced in May for impersonating a Grand Rapids ambulance medic.
Fortuna received permission to be on an ambulance ride-along and helped load patients. He falsely told American Medical Response he was a former medical transportation company employee, according to police.
Fortuna injected and administered medications during a two-day stint with the ambulance service, according to police.
A supervisor became suspicious and found that Fortuna didn’t have a paramedic license.
“(The paramedic) went on to explain how it felt strange that Fortuna was fumbling on things that an experienced medic should be (able to do),” Grand Rapids Officer Gregg Arsenault wrote in the police report.
Fortuna said he’s done similar things with paramedic services in Mount Pleasant, New Mexico and New York, but ambulance services in those locations have no record of him working there.
“I’m always going 100 miles per hour,” Fortuna said. “That’s a lot of the problem. I act before I think. If I just slowed down and thought before I acted.”
The January incident occurred just four months after he’d finished serving a five-year prison sentence for making false statements to federal agents, according to court records. Fortuna had told the FBI that he had information about phony bomb plots in an attempt to lessen time he was to serve for other fraud-related convictions.
Fortuna has been convicted of impersonating a uniformed officer, petty larceny, forging checks, credit card fraud, receiving stolen goods and falsely obtaining services, according to records.
“I don’t know if I get bored and want something to do, if I want action or the thrill of it,” Fortuna said. “I really can’t explain that there.”

Michelle Obama’s book tour includes Detroit stop

Associated Press
Michelle Obama’s 12-stop jaunt across the country — and an ocean — is not your average book tour. Of course, the former first lady is not your average author.
Oprah Winfrey joined Obama Tuesday night at the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks, as she begins the tour touting the already best-selling “Becoming.”
Here’s what to know about the tome and the tour:
“Becoming,” which officially came out Tuesday, describes Obama’s upbringing on Chicago’s South Side, as well as her time at Whitney Young and Princeton University. She writes about straddling economic and social worlds as a child and young adult.
But befitting its title, it takes readers on her journey of becoming a lawyer, wife of former President Barack Obama, mother of two girls, and, ultimately, her eight years in the White House.
Obama shares such deeply personal revelations about racism as well as having a miscarriage. She sharply criticizes President Donald Trump for promoting the false “birther” rumor that her husband was not a U.S. citizen.
Winfrey, who selected “Becoming” for her influential book club , said it’s “everything you wanted to know and so much you didn’t even know you wanted to know.”
As for Trump, Obama writes that his “loud and reckless innuendos” stirred people up and put “my family’s safety at risk.”
“And for this,” she adds, “I’d never forgive him.”
Trump said Obama “got paid a lot of money to write a book and they always insisted you come up with (something) controversial.” The current president said that he’d never forgive his predecessor for making the country “very unsafe.”
In short, it’s among the most-anticipated political memoirs in years, topping Amazon.com’s best-seller list throughout the weekend. On Monday, Barnes & Noble announced that pre-orders for “Becoming” were the highest for any adult book since Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman,” which came out in 2015. It’s expected to sell millions of copies.
Tens of thousands of people purchased tickets to Obama’s United Center appearance — paying from just under $30 to hundreds or even thousands of dollars for VIP packages.
Other stops include Los Angeles, Washington, Detroit, Boston, Paris and London. The tour ends next month in New York City’s Barclay Center, with Sarah Jessica Parker as moderator.

Service held for vets’ cremains found at funeral home

HOLLY, Mich. (AP) — A service was held Monday at a Michigan cemetery for the cremated remains of about 20 military veterans found in a closed Detroit funeral home.
Hearses bearing the remains were escorted by police from the Detroit area to Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Detroit. They were given a 21-gun salute and taps was played.
The name of each veteran being laid to rest also was read aloud. Their remains were among several hundred discovered this year inside the Cantrell Funeral Home, which the state shut down in April after inspectors found improperly stored bodies and other violations.
“To bury the dead is one of the great acts of mercy and the final act of charity that we can give to our brothers today,” monsignor and retired Navy chaplain Timothy Hogan said in leading the service. “Now, may they rest in peace.”
Detroit police are investigating Cantrell Funeral Home after the remains of 10 mummified fetuses and a full-term infant were found last month beneath insulation in a ceiling. A separate investigation is underway on the Perry Funeral Home in Detroit after 63 fetuses also were found last month in boxes and freezers.
Verheyden Funeral Homes in the Detroit area provided identification of the cremains from Cantrell at no cost, and led efforts to bury them.
Non-military remains were interred earlier this month at a Detroit cemetery. Some of those have yet to be identified.
The remains of Donna Martin’s brother, Marshall Johnson, were taken Monday to Great Lakes National Cemetery. She told the Detroit Free Press that her brother died two years ago of lung cancer and that a service was held at Cantrell. The family believed the funeral home already had taken the remains to a military cemetery for burial.
“We had a ceremony before, but this time I was overwhelmed,” Martin said of Monday’s service.

State gas prices fall

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — AAA Michigan says average gas prices statewide are down 10 cents in the past week to about $2.61 per gallon amid continued lower oil prices . The Dearborn-based auto club said Monday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline is about 15 cents less per gallon than the same point last year. AAA says Michigan gas prices are at the lowest level since March after dropping 33 cents a gallon in the past month.
The state’s highest average was $2.86 per gallon in the Marquette area. The lowest was in the Grand Rapids, Holland and Muskegon areas at $2.47 a gallon.

Michigan man helps others with his dog

Detroit Free Press
AP Member Exchange
PLYMOUTH, Mich. — It’s a late Monday afternoon and a small tavern on a remote side street in downtown Plymouth is packed.
Hundreds of folks are there to celebrate the birthday of arguably the biggest star in town: An 8-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog named Stella.
“I’m the township supervisor and Stella’s bigger than me,” Kurt Heise told the Detroit Free Press . “I couldn’t get a crowd like this for my birthday. She’s got a book and a restaurant named after her.”
Stella is the namesake for Stella’s Black Dog Tavern, a once-struggling bar that is now a dining destination.
The man behind Stella’s fame and the tavern’s turnaround is Bob Ostendorf.
He’s a turnaround specialist who spent about 30 years rescuing companies, including auto suppliers, from financial ruin. Five years ago at age 63,
Ostendoft abandoned retirement and bought Doyle’s Tavern. He rebranded it and made it so successful that he plans to move it to a bigger venue in Plymouth before year-end to accommodate its growing popularity.
But it hasn’t been all triumph for Ostendorf. Along the way, he endured personal tragedies, and it was this 125-pound black dog, Stella, who would ultimately rescue him.
Now they both help others. They raise money for a local humane society and Stella is a certified service dog who visits former war veterans at Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System. She also doles out daily empathy to everyone she meets at the tavern, in some cases changing lives.
Here is the story of a man, his life’s work and the dog who’s touching a town.
Bob Ostendorf is a reserved man who’ll shake your hand with genuine warmth.
He has an avuncular presence that belies his deep military discipline and financial acumen.
And he loves two things: People and dogs. He credits the former for making him a successful businessman. He credits the latter for making him a better man.
“I think God was ingenious when he created dogs,” said Ostendorf. “Stella and I spend a lot of time together and we do benevolent things.”

No emerging contamination

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Michigan environmental officials say there’s no emerging threat of chemical contamination in the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair watershed despite tests that found contamination from Selfridge Air National Guard Base .
The Detroit News reports that was the message to area residents at a Thursday night community briefing in suburban Detroit.
Tracy Kecskemeti, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s southeast Michigan district coordinator, says “we do not have the public health crisis or impact you have in other parts of the state.” She says “public water supplies are safe.”