Keep an eye on elections as some are too close to call

Romans 13:1 says, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Georgia’s Senate race still too close, Dow slips, and history has been made in some American states
  • Stacey Abrams conceded to Republican challenger Brian Kemp in Georgia
  • Gretchen Whitmer defeats Tudor Dixon in Michigan
  • Republican George Santos flipped the 3rd Congressional district in New York
  • 4 Senate seats are still up for grabs: Nevada, Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona. Delay in Arizona’s Maricopa County due to “ballot glitches” and additional results are expected on Wednesday night.
  • Some of the top issues for American voters during this election cycle included inflation, threats to democracy, crime, immigration and border security, and abortion.

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Indiana and Michigan hit by deadly storms

Revelation 16:9 “They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Deadly storms unleash damaging winds, trigger mass power outages
  • A line of storms that produced a windy start to the week in the Midwest was responsible for at least two deaths Monday night and more than half a million power outages in Michigan and four other states, with wind gusts topping out at alarming speeds in several other locales.
  • Both Indiana and Michigan dealt with dangerous wind gusts due to the storms, including 81-mph gusts in Lowell, Indiana, 70-mph gusts at Detroit’s City Airport and a 66-mph gust reported in Holland, Michigan, according to AccuWeather data.

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Michigan school shooting ‘entirely preventable’, says $100-million federal lawsuit

Reuters) – A deadly shooting rampage at a Michigan high school last week was “entirely preventable,” according to a $100 million federal lawsuit filed on Thursday against the Michigan school district and its employees.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Riley Franz, 17, who was shot in the neck, and her sister Bella, 14, who was next to her when she was shot in the Nov. 30 incident at Oxford High School in suburban Oakland County, some 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Detroit.

The girls’ parents, Jeffrey and Brandi Franz, also are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division.

Riley Franz was among 6 students and a teacher seriously injured in the gunfire that killed 4 students.

Ethan Crumbley, a 15-year-old student, was being held without bail after he was charged as an adult in the attack, the deadliest U.S. school shooting of 2021.

His parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, who gave him the gun as an early Christmas present and are accused of then ignoring warning signs that he was planning a shooting at the high school, were charged with involuntary manslaughter and were being held in lieu of $500,000 bail.

The lawsuit was filed against Oxford Community School District, superintendent Timothy Throne, principal Steven Wolf, dean of students Ryan Moore, two unnamed teachers and two unnamed counselors.

The district did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The lawsuit seeks $100 million on behalf of the Franz parents, and Riley – described as a 12th grade honor roll student preparing to enter college – and Bella, said to be a 9th grade star athlete getting ready for driver’s training.

“The horror of November 30, 2021 was entirely preventable,” said the lawsuit filed by Michigan personal injury attorney Geoffrey Fieger.

“Each and every defendant named herein created and increased the dangers then-existing at Oxford High School. The individually named Defendants are each responsible through their actions for making the student victims less safe.”

Among the many detailed accusations in the 44-page lawsuit were several detailing Ethan Crumbley’s threats of violence on social media as well as his search for ammunition on his cell phone.

Throne and Wolf reviewed social media posts and were aware of the ammunition search reported by a teacher prior to the shooting, the lawsuit said. Still, they reassured all parents by email and other correspondence that their children were safe at Oxford, the lawsuit said.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Prosecutors charge parents of Michigan teen in school shooting

By Brendan O’Brien and Joseph Ax

(Reuters) -Prosecutors on Friday charged the parents of a 15-year-old boy accused of murdering four students at his Michigan high school with involuntary manslaughter, saying the couple appear to have bought him the weapon as a Christmas present and ignored warning signs that he might be planning the rampage.

James and Jennifer Crumbley each face four counts and are expected to be arraigned later on Friday, three days after authorities say their son, Ethan, carried out the deadliest U.S. school shooting of 2021. He faces two dozen charges and is being held without bond.

“These charges are intended to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable and also send a message: that gun owners have a responsibility,” Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald told a news conference on Friday.

Four days before the shooting, Ethan accompanied his father to a local gun shop, where James Crumbley bought a semi-automatic handgun, prosecutors said.

Later that day, Ethan posted photos of the gun on social media, writing, “Just got my new beauty today” and adding a heart emoji. His mother posted the next day that the two of them were “testing out his new Christmas present,” McDonald said.

Prosecutors described several chilling warning signs in the days leading up to the shooting. On Nov. 21, a teacher saw Ethan Crumbley searching for ammunition on his phone during class and alerted school officials, who left messages for his mother that went unreturned.

In a text message to her son that day, Jennifer Crumbley wrote, “LOL, I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught,” prosecutors said.

The morning of the shooting, a teacher discovered a drawing that Ethan Crumbley had made depicting a handgun, a bullet, and a bleeding figure. The words “Blood everywhere” and “The thoughts won’t stop – help me” were also written on the sheet, among other messages, according to McDonald.

“It is impossible not to conclude that there is reason to believe he might hurt someone” based on the drawings, McDonald said.

James and Jennifer Crumbley were summoned to the school, where they were instructed to get Ethan into mental health counseling within 48 hours, McDonald said. They “resisted” the idea of taking their son home from school and did not search his backpack or ask him about the gun, she said.

When news of an active shooter at the school broke shortly after 1 p.m. EST, Jennifer Crumbley sent Ethan a text message, urging him, “Don’t do it,” according to prosecutors. A few minutes later, James Crumbley called police to report that the gun was missing and he believed his son might be the shooter.

The gun had been stored in an unlocked drawer in the parents’ bedroom, McDonald said.

It was not immediately clear whether James and Jennifer Crumbley had legal representation.

Parents are rarely charged in connection with children’s school shootings. Unlike some states, Michigan does not legally require gun owners to keep their firearms secured from children.

The attack is the latest in a decades-long string of mass shootings at U.S. schools.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien and Joseph Ax; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

 

Michigan teen charged with 1st-degree murder, held without bond in shooting spree

 

By Brendan O’Brien and Peter Szekely

(Reuters) – A Michigan teenager was ordered held without bond on Wednesday after being charged with first-degree murder in the deadliest U.S. school shooting of the year, which killed four students and wounded seven other people.

Ethan Crumbley, a 15-year-old sophomore at a high school in Oxford, Michigan, about 40 miles (65 km) north of Detroit, was charged with a slew of criminal counts in Tuesday’s shooting spree, Oakland County Prosecuting Attorney Karen McDonald said.

“I am absolutely sure after reviewing evidence that it isn’t even a close call,” she told a briefing. “It was absolutely premeditated.”

In addition to four counts of first-degree murder, Crumbley faces one count of terrorism causing death, seven counts of assault with intent to murder and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, she said.

The shooting spree was the deadliest on U.S. school property this year, according to Education Week. It was the latest in a decades-long string of deadly American school shootings.

Crumbley, who is being charged as an adult, appeared on Wednesday at an online arraignment where Judge Nancy Carniak ordered him held without bond at the Oakland County Jail.

At the arraignment, Lieutenant Tim Willis of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said investigators had found videos that Crumbley recorded the night before in which he talked about shooting and killing students.

“Further, a journal was recovered from Ethan’s backpack also detailing his desire to shoot up the school to include murdering students,” Willis said.

Crumbley opened fire at Oxford High School with a semi-automatic handgun – which his father had purchased four days earlier – after emerging from a restroom shortly before 1 p.m. EST (1700 GMT) on Tuesday, authorities said.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said Crumbley did not appear to be targeting any specific people during the shooting spree.

Three students hit by gunfire – Tate Myre, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Madisyn Baldwin, 17 – died on Tuesday, the sheriff’s office said. The fourth, 17-year-old Justin Shilling, died on Wednesday.

Of the six students and one teacher who were wounded, three students remained hospitalized late on Wednesday afternoon, including a 17-year-old girl in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the chest, the sheriff’s office said. Four others, including the teacher, have been discharged.

MOTIVE UNCLEAR

Bouchard told a briefing that investigators have yet to determine a motive for the shooting, adding that there was no evidence Crumbley had been bullied.

But he said school officials had contact with Crumbley the day before the shooting and another meeting with him and his parents on the morning of the shooting “for behavior in the classroom that they felt was concerning.”

“The content of that meeting, obviously, is part of the investigation, but we did not learn of that meeting nor the content of that meeting until after the shooting and during this investigation,” he said.

More than 50,000 people had signed an online petition as of Wednesday morning to rename the school’s stadium after Myre, who played on Oxford High’s football team, saying he tried to disarm the shooter.

“Tate is not just a hero to his fellow students at Oxford High School but a legend, his act of bravery should be remembered forever and passed down through generations,” the petition on Change.org said.

Bouchard credited swift action by his deputies for preventing greater loss of life, saying they arrived on the scene within minutes and moved straight toward the sound of gunshots. Crumbley, who did not resist, was disarmed and taken into custody minutes after the shooting began, he said.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago and Peter Szekely in New York; Additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles and Tyler Clifford in New York and Kat Jackson in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney)

Deadly Michigan school shooting baffles police as young suspect keeps silent

By Steve Gorman and Brendan O’Brien

(Reuters) – Investigators were reviewing video and reading the writings of a 15-year-old boy on Wednesday as they sought clues to what drove him to go on a deadly shooting spree at his high school north of Detroit, where he killed three fellow classmates.

The suspect, whose name was withheld by officials because he is a minor, opened fire on Tuesday with a handgun his father had purchased four days earlier, killing three students in Oxford, Michigan, about 40 miles (65 km) from Detroit.

Tate Myre, 16, died in a patrol car en route to a hospital. Hanna St. Julian, 14 and Madisyn Baldwin, 17, were also killed in the shooting. A teacher and seven other students were wounded, some critically, authorities said.

“It’s clear that he came out with the intent to kill people,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said in an interview on CNN on Wednesday.

“He was shooting people at close range, oftentimes towards the head and chest. … It’s just absolutely coldhearted murders,” he said, adding that the shooter fired at least 30 shots.

Bouchard said investigators were poring over writings of the shooter they obtained in the middle of the night that contain “some of his thoughts.” They were also watching surveillance videos of the incident.

“We can’t get the motive from the suspect that we have in custody, but we think we’ve got a path to get a lot of supportive information as to how and why this occurred,” he said.

The incident was the latest in a decades-long string of deadly U.S. school shootings that will likely fuel debates about gun control and mental health care, with many states allowing easy access to firearms while mental health disorders often go untreated.

The suspect was armed with a 9mm semi-automatic handgun his father had purchased on Nov. 26, along with three 15-round magazines. Seven live rounds remained in the gun when the youth was arrested, the sheriff said late on Tuesday.

The suspect was disarmed and taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies minutes after the shooting began. He declined to speak with investigators after his parents retained a lawyer and denied authorities permission to interview their son, Bouchard said.

“The person who’s got the most insight on motive is not talking,” the sheriff said.

Bouchard said he was unaware of any previous run-ins with law enforcement by the suspect, a high school sophomore, adding that investigators had so far seen nothing to suggest a history of disciplinary problems or threats.

He said forensic technicians were collecting evidence from the crime scene, while detectives began collecting video footage from security cameras mounted around the school and interviewing witnesses and those acquainted with the suspect.

The sheriff said a search warrant was executed at the suspect’s home in Oxford and his cellphone was seized.

THREE DEAD, EIGHT WOUNDED

Bouchard credited swift action by his deputies for preventing greater loss of life, saying they arrived on the scene within minutes and moved straight toward the sound of gunshots.

Officers confronted the young assailant advancing down a hallway toward them with a loaded weapon, and he put his hands over his head and surrendered, Bouchard said.

The precise sequence of events during the violence remained unclear, but police believe the student carried the weapon into school in a backpack, the sheriff said.

“The only information I have is that he came out of a bathroom with a weapon, and I don’t know where he went first,” Bouchard said.

Prosecutors will decide what charges to bring and whether the suspect should be treated as an adult or juvenile, the sheriff said.

The boy, who was unharmed, was being detained in a special cell under suicide watch at a juvenile detention center, Oakland County Executive David Coulter said.

Of the seven other students struck by gunfire, three of them – a 15-year-old boy with a gunshot wound to the head and two girls with chest wounds, aged 14 and 17 – were hospitalized in critical condition, Bouchard said. The younger girl was on a ventilator after surgery.

The four remaining teenage victims – three boys and a girl – were listed in serious or stable condition, he said

One teacher was treated for a shoulder wound and later discharged.

The boy apparently “had been shooting” the gun before Tuesday’s attack and had posted pictures of the weapon and a target he was using, according to the sheriff.

(By Steve Gorman in Los Angeles and Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Jonathan Oatis)

Three students shot dead, six people wounded at Michigan high school; suspect arrested

(Reuters) – A 15-year-old boy killed three fellow high school students and wounded six other people upon opening fire with a semi-automatic handgun at a Michigan high school, and he was quickly taken into custody, police said.

At least one of those wounded was a teacher at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, about 40 miles (65 km) north of Detroit, the Oakland County Sheriff’s office said.

“The suspect fired multiple shots,” Undersheriff Michael McCabe told reporters at the scene. “There’s multiple victims. It’s unfortunate I have to report that we have three deceased victims right now, who are believed to be students.”

The suspect, a sophomore at the school, was believed to have acted alone and was arrested without resistance after firing 15 to 20 shots, McCabe said.

“The whole thing lasted five minutes,” McCabe said.

WDIV television reported the suspect divulged nothing to police and demanded his right to speak with a lawyer.

Student Abbey Hodder told the Detroit Free Press that she was in chemistry class when she heard the sound of glass breaking.

“My teacher kind of ran out and was scrambling,” Hodder, 15, told the newspaper. “The next thing I knew I saw he was pushing tables. It’s part of school protocol to barricade, so we all knew, barricade, barricade down. And we all started pushing tables.”

McCabe praised the school for its preparation for a shooting and an orderly evacuation.

President Joe Biden was told of the shooting by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in advance of a tour and remarks at a Minnesota technical college, Press Secretary Jan Psaki told reporters.

“My heart goes out to the families enduring the unimaginable grief of losing a loved one,” Biden said from Minnesota.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer called the shooting “horrific.”

“As Michiganders, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to protect each other from gun violence,” Whitmer, a Democrat, said in a statement.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York, Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles, Akriti Sharma in Bengaluru, Jarrett Renshaw in Philadelphia and Daniel Trotta in Carlsbad, Calif.; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Matthew Lewis)

U.S. Commerce chief makes pitch for chips funding in Michigan

By David Shepardson

TAYLOR, Michigan (Reuters) -U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Monday made a pitch for Congress to approve $52 billion to expand U.S. semiconductor manufacturing in a visit to Michigan where she heard about auto sector struggles with the ongoing chip supply crisis.

“The reality is Michigan will lose jobs … if we don’t increase our supply of chips,” Raimondo said.

She visited a United Auto Workers local hall near Detroit and met with Michigan politicians, and officials from General Motors Co, Ford Motor and Chrysler-parent Stellantis on the push for funding before the end of December.

Detroit’s Big Three automakers and other global automakers have been forced to cut production and even make some vehicles without features like heated seats or digital speedometers because of the semiconductor shortage.

On Nov. 17, House of Representatives and Senate leaders said they would negotiate seeking final agreement on a bill to boost U.S. technology competitiveness with China and semiconductor manufacturing. The Senate-approved legislation would award $52 billion for semiconductor manufacturing and authorize $190 billion to strengthen U.S. technology and research.

Stellantis executive Marlo Vitous said the company is working hard to get chips to make vehicles. “It is pure grit right now — the fight for the parts that we need.”

UAW President Ray Curry said the chips shortage “at its core … is not to off-shore American jobs. Bring those” semiconductor jobs back to the United States.

Automotive chips demand will continue to rise as automakers shift to electric vehicles, which use twice as many chips as gasoline-powered models. The companies say the crisis will continue at least another year.

Michigan lawmakers cast the issue in geopolitical terms.

“We are not going to let China kick our ass. We are going to kick China’s ass,” Representative Debbie Dingell said at the forum, saying it was crucial for U.S. workers that Congress boost funding for chips.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We need the House to pass its version of the CHIPS Act,” Raimondo said at a separate Detroit Economic Club appearance.

“Commerce is pursuing strategies like ‘nearshoring’ and ‘friendshoring,’ so like-minded partners are integrated into our supply chains,” Raimondo added. “As we rebuild our supply chains, we can’t be dependent on foreign countries that don’t share our values for our critical chip components.”

Last week, Samsung Electronics said it had picked Taylor, Texas, as the location for a new $17 billion plant to make advanced chips.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Leslie Adler)

GM to open battery cell development center in push to cut EV costs

By Ben Klayman

DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Co on Tuesday said it will open a battery cell development center in southeast Michigan to help it drive down the cost and boost the driving range of electric vehicles with lithium ion and solid-state battery cells.

The Wallace Battery Cell Innovation Center, to be located on the No. 1 U.S. automaker’s technical campus in Warren, Michigan, is expected to open in mid-2022 and begin building prototype cells in the fourth quarter, GM said.

“The key to making these vehicles affordable is going to be the cell cost in the battery packs,” Ken Morris, GM’s vice president of electric and self-driving vehicles, said on a conference call with reporters. GM will spend “hundreds of millions” of dollars on the new center, he added.

GM has said it will spend $35 billion through 2025 on EVs and autonomous vehicles, and is expected to outline targets beyond that period at its investor day on Wednesday.

Part of that push is GM’s partnership with LG Energy Solutions, a unit of South Korea’s LG Chem, to develop its Ultium batteries. The companies have announced two joint-ventures battery plants and GM has said it intends to open two more.

GM has targeted eliminating emissions from all light vehicles it sells by 2035.

A key element to making EVs more attractive to consumers is driving down their cost and a big part of that is the batteries. GM has said it wants to have at least 60% lower battery costs in the next generation of Ultium and officials said future products will allow electric driving ranges of 600 miles (965 km) on a single charge.

The new facility, at almost 300,000 square feet (27,900 square meters), will work with the company’s existing materials research and development and battery systems labs in Warren. It will also work with SES, a Massachusetts company with which GM formed a partnership with in March.

The center, named for Bill Wallace, a former executive who played a key role in the development of GM’s advanced battery technology before he died from cancer in 2018, will be capable of building large-format, prototype lithium-metal battery cells, as well as developing silicon and solid-state technologies.

It will also develop new production methods to use in battery plants.

GM rival Ford Motor Co in April said it would invest $185 million to open in late 2022 an EV battery development center.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; editing by Richard Pullin)

Canada formally invokes 1977 pipeline treaty with U.S. over Line 5 dispute

By Nia Williams and Sebastien Malo

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) -Canada on Monday formally invoked a 1977 treaty with the United States to request negotiations over Enbridge Inc’s Line 5 pipeline, escalating a long-running dispute over one of Canada’s major oil export pipelines.

Line 5 ships 540,000 barrels per day of crude and refined products from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario, but the state of Michigan wants it shut down over worries that a leak could develop in a four-mile section running beneath the Straits of Mackinac in the Great Lakes.

Enbridge ignored Michigan’s order to halt operations earlier this year. The sides are embroiled in a legal battle, and took part in court-ordered mediation. The government of Canada has been pushing counterparts in the United States to intervene to help keep the pipeline open.

In a letter to the federal judge presiding over the case, Gordon Giffin, legal counsel for the Canadian government, said Canada had formally invoked Article Six of the 1977 Transit Pipelines Treaty.

The treaty, designed to stop U.S. or Canadian public officials from impeding the flow of oil in transit, has never been invoked before.

Canada’s foreign ministry and the U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Enbridge spokeswoman Tracy Larsson said Michigan had let parties know it is not committed to further mediation.

“We greatly appreciate the efforts of ‘Team Canada’ – from the Government of Canada to the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan for their commitments and efforts to keep Line 5 open,” she said in an email.

(Additonal reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by David Gregorio)