Southwest Michigan Today for Thursday July 27, 2017

Jul 27, 2017

More than a hundred faculty and administrators at Western Michigan University have signed a letter asking President Donald Trump to intervene on behalf of a Saudi Arabian student who planned to attend the university.

Mujtaba Al-Sweikat has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for supposedly taking part in protests a few years ago. Al-Sweikat was accepted to Western in 2013 but was arrested before he could get to the US. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that Al-Sweikat has allegedly been beaten and tortured in prison. Along with the letter from Western’s community, politicians and human rights groups have called on the government to intervene on Al-Sweikat’s behalf. So far Trump has not spoken about the case.

An environmental nonprofit claims that more than half the state’s population is drinking water that’s contaminated with a potentially hazardous heavy metal. The Environmental Working Group says its data shows about 6 million people in Michigan drink tap water that contains hexavalent chromium or chromium-6, the chemical featured in the movie “Erin Brockovich.” According to the Detroit Free Press, the group says chromium-6 is present in amounts considered carcinogenic by at least some research. That doesn’t mean the water systems in question are out of step with federal regulations, or that they’re even above average levels for chromium-6. The EWG says federal rules on hexavalent chromium are out of date. 

The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety is looking into a complaint about how an officer handled an arrest earlier this month. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that a KDPS officer is accused of grabbing a 20-year-old man by the throat while arresting him. Both the officer and the man he arrested are African-American. But the Metropolitan Branch of the NAACP, which brought the complaint, says it’s concerned that the department might have used unnecessary force. Department Chief Jeff Hadley says it’s possible KDPS will finish an internal investigation this week. Hadley says he expects to decide whether to take action soon after he reviews the results.

Battle Creek is paying teachers to move into city limits. The Battle Creek Enquirer reports that’s thanks to a one-point-five million dollar grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. It allows the city to give home loans of up to three thousand dollars to teachers who move into the public schools district. If a teacher lives there for five years, the loans would be forgiven altogether. More than 40 percent of teachers at Battle Creek Public Schools live outside the district’s borders. City officials say the incentive is part of Battle Creek’s effort to revitalize its neighborhoods.

A well-known Michigan brewery will soon be managed by the California-based company owned by Heineken beer. Short’s Brewing Company in Bellaire announced on Wednesday that it’s sold a 20 percent equity stake to the Lagunitas Brewing Company. MLive reports that rumors about a business partnership between Short’s and a larger brewer began to ferment this spring. Short’s says the company will keep using its brands. Other brewers in the state have moved in a similar direction. Founders Brewing Company, Perrin Brewing and New Holland Brewing have all either started partnerships or have been sold to another brewer in the last few years.