7.31.14:  Sean Phillips back in Ludington Court


LUDINGTON, Mich. (AP) — A key court hearing is set to resume for a northern Lower Michigan man accused of killing his baby daughter.


Sean Phillips’ preliminary examination on an open murder charge is scheduled for Thursday in district court in Ludington.


Baby Kate, as she’s known, disappeared in 2011. Her body hasn’t been found. Katherine Phillips was 4½ months old when last seen in the Ludington area, about 80 miles northwest of Grand Rapids.


Judge Peter Wadel in April called a time-out in the hearing to allow defense experts to examine a letter authorities say links Sean Phillips to Katherine Phillips’ disappearance.


Wadel must decide whether there’s probable cause to put Phillips on trial for murder.


Phillips already is serving at least 10 years in prison for unlawful imprisonment in the infant’s disappearance.


7.31.14:  Arena Place to house apartments, offices, and retail space


A groundbreaking ceremony took place Wednesday  for a new 11-story building in downtown Grand Rapids’ Arena South District.  The building is located at 55 Ottawa and is just behind the VanAndel Arena.


Plans for the building will include:  offices, apartment space, parking, a restaurant, and retail space.


The Arena Place is scheduled to be finished during the winter of 2015.

7.31.14:  Opponents press Snyder to cancel prison contract


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Opponents are pressing Governor Rick Snyder’s administration to cancel the state’s contract with a company that provides food in the prison system.


The liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan says local officials on Thursday will demand cancellation of Aramark’s contract in a call with reporters. They’ll also ask local governments to investigate their own contracts with the company.


Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services has come under scrutiny for maggots found in a prison’s food area and infractions such as workers having sex with inmates. Michigan Corrections Department spokesman Russ Marlan says a decision on the contract remains weeks away.


Michigan’s in the first year of a three-year contract with Aramark that’s expected to save $16 million a year. Michigan has fined Aramark $98,000 for violations.


Aramark faces similar sanitation complaints in Ohio.

7.31.14:  Chrysler recalls Fiat 500Ls to fix knee air bags


DETROIT (AP) — Chrysler is recalling just under 30,000 Fiat 500L small cars in the U.S. and Canada to fix a problem with air bags that protect knees in a crash.


The company says in a statement Wednesday that the bags may not inflate in the proper position if the driver isn’t wearing a seat belt. Chrysler says it doesn’t know of any injuries from the problem.


The recall covers cars from the 2014 and 2015 model years including 25,500 in the U.S. and another 4,000 in Canada.


Dealers will replace the driver’s side knee air bags at no cost to owners.


Chrysler says it will notify owners when parts are available. In the meantime, they should wear seat belts so the bags work properly.

7.31.14:  Israel vows to destroy Hamas tunnels


JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the military will dismantle the Hamas tunnel network in the Gaza Strip “with or without a cease-fire.”


Netanyahu says he will not accept any truce that won’t allow Israel to complete its mission of destroying the sophisticated tunnel network, which has been used to carry out deadly attacks inside Israel.


Israel launched its air campaign on July 8 to stop unrelenting rocket fire from Gaza toward Israel. It expanded the operation with a ground offensive on July 17 with the primary purpose of blocking Hamas infiltration attempts through the tunnels.

7.31.14:  Praying for U.S. Missionaries with Ebola


WASHINGTON (AP) — A North Carolina congressman is asking for prayer for Charlotte missionary Nancy Writebol, one of two Americans who have come down with Ebola while helping West Africans affected by the deadly virus.


In a House floor speech, Republican Robert Pittenger noted that Writebol could have left Liberia when Ebola began to spread, but instead volunteered to help sanitize medical personnel and their equipment. He said she “chose a higher calling of sacrificial love and service.”


Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly, a medical missionary with the Christian aid group Samaritan’s Purse, remained in isolation Wednesday, receiving treatment for the virus that has no known cure and kills 60 percent of the people who contract it.


Prayer services for the afflicted missionaries were held Wednesday at Writebol’s home church in Charlotte and Brantly’s home church in Fort Worth, Texas.

7.31.14:  Scherzer gets 13th win


DETROIT (AP) — Max Scherzer pitched seven impressive innings, and the Detroit Tigers scored six runs in the first inning en route to a 7-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.


Nick Castellanos hit a three-run homer in the first and added an RBI single in the seventh for the Tigers, who snapped a four-game losing streak. Scherzer allowed a run and five hits. He struck out six and walked one.


Detroit allowed seven runs in the seventh in an 11-4 loss to the White Sox on Tuesday night, but this time the big inning belonged to the Tigers.


Hector Noesi allowed six runs and 10 hits in six innings. Chicago slugger Jose Abreu singled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 19 games. He has hit safely in 37 of his last 38 games.


Adam Dunn homered for the White Sox.


The two teams play again this afternoon at 1:08 p.m.

7.30.14:  Michigan to hold hearing on new standardized test


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The public will get a chance to weigh in on what Michigan’s next standardized test for students should look like.


The state Education Departments plans a public hearing about the issue on Wednesday in Lansing.


The state is moving away from the Michigan Educational Assessment Program exams that have been around for more than 40 years. The state Education Department planned to administer the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced test next school year but ran into resistance from the Legislature.


Lawmakers ordered the state to come up with a revised MEAP test for next school year and to issue a request for proposals from testing companies for a new test in the 2015-16 academic year.


A two-week public comment period expires next Tuesday.

7.30.14:  Grant will help with after-school programs


Thanks to a 5-year, 12 million dollar grant from the Michigan Department of Education, there will be more after school programs in the Grand Rapids Public School system.


Starting this fall, the grant will fund programming at all of the district’s 18 elementary and K-8 and middle schools.


The programs provide students with tutoring and other academic support services.  It provides students with a safe environment to help them improve their academic performance.

7.30.14:  Broken water main floods UCLA


LOS ANGELES (AP) — A broken water main near the UCLA campus is spewing water into the air, and stranding cars and people in underground parking structures.


Television news reports show an immense geyser surging from the middle of the street on Sunset Boulevard. Streets on and near campus are flooded, and fast-moving sheets of water are pouring down the entrance of a parking structure and into campus athletic fields near Pauley Pavilion.  Pauley Pavilion basketball arena had just undergone a $132 million renovation and has at least an inch of water covering the floor.


Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey says fire crews have helped at least three stranded drivers.


More than 100 vehicles were stuck in parking garages and firefighters had to use inflatable boats to rescue some people.